Johnny Pesky (born John Michael Paveskovich), one of the all time great members of the Boston Red Sox passed away earlier today at the age of 92, reportedly of natural causes. Pesky has long been one of the most revered players in the history of the Red Sox organization. Pesky, nicknamed “The Needle” served many roles within the organization over 6 decades: player, manager, color commentator, coach and general ambassador for the team.
One of the things for which Pesky is most famous is the fact that the right field foul pole was named “The Pesky Pole” in his honor by former Red Sox player and broadcaster Mel Parnell. Parnell had made the statement in jest, as a joke about Pesky’s lack of power. He only hit 13 home runs as a member of the Red Sox, and Parnell quipped that every one that Pesky hit at Fenway (all 6 of them) went out past that right field foul pole. The “Pesky Pole” designation was made official in 2006.
In addition to his 13 home runs as a member of the Red Sox, Pesky also amassed 361 RBI and had an average of .313. His career in Boston got off to an incredible start in 1942, but was quickly derailed after his first season when he was deployed for 3 years of military service (taking a sabbatical from professional sports in order to serve in the military was not uncommon at the time). Despite being away from the game for 3 years, Pesky came back in 1946 and earned a spot on the all-star team.
During his career, he also spent time with Detroit and Washington.
Pesky, who was as beloved by the Red Sox and their fans as anyone ever associated with the team, will be sadly missed. His number 6 jersey was retired by the team in 2008.
R.I.P Johnny Pesky