Johnny Pesky died Monday after seven decades as the pre-eminent ambassador for the Boston Red Sox. Pesky joined the Sox in 1942, batting .331 with 205 hits. He lost the next three years to his service in World War II, but came back with 200-hit seasons in ’46 and ’47. Pesky was the perfect name for a player who once drew 100 walks in a season while striking out just 19 times. Pesky’s lively personality and boundless enthusiasm made him beloved to generations of Red Sox fans. On the occasion of his passing, we present the foreword he wrote to Athlon's 2006 book "Game Day: Boston Red Sox."
Through the years, I've been labeled 'Mr. Red Sox.' Now I don't know if that is true or not, but I do know I've been honored to be a part of this team for over 60 years.
The Boston Red Sox are a special club, and their fans are second to none. The atmosphere in Boston is unmatched. People talk about places like St. Louis and New York and Chicago, but there is nothing like Boston. There is some sort of mystique there.
It all starts with Fenway Park. The new owners have done so much since they've taken over, it is like a brand new ballpark. They've added a lot of seats, but I think they need to add some more. Fenway Park is a perfect setting, but the fans are so gung-ho about the Red Sox, they could move it up to 40,000 no problem. I see a lot of the same families at the park year after year and they just love the Red Sox.
One of my proudest moments of being with the Red Sox was on Opening Day in 2005, when I was able to raise the World Series championship banner in center field. The old captain, Carl Yastrzemski, raised it with me, and the fans were terrific. I also remember Joe Torre having his team up on the top step when I received my ring. That meant a lot to me.
That day was a true celebration of that 2004 club and all it accomplished. That club had the best combination I've ever seen of good players and good guys pulling for each other. Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller, Johnny Damon, Tim Wakefield. They really cared for each other, and that started with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Just a wonderful group.
Being in the locker room in St. Louis was great. I never saw so many happy guys crying in my whole life, and I was one of them. It was a big thrill and truly overwhelming. Even the new guys to the Red Sox appreciated what it meant. They were all acting like children, and I couldn't blame them.
Playing with Ted Williams was the highlight of my career. He was the greatest hitter who ever lived, and the numbers back him up. Certainly there have been other hitters, but no one like Ted. He had the average, the power, and he lost years on his career to two wars.
The game is certainly changing, but the future is bright for the Red Sox. I feel privileged to be part of this organization for so long, and my hope is to continue to be a part of it for as long as I can.
— Johnny Pesky, December 2005