Johnny Pesky described himself once: "I wasn’t a great player. I was a decent player. I knew the game, I’d like to think. I know I had a lot of fun."
He wasn't an earth-shatteringly great player. He only managed to stay in the Majors for 10 seasons (although he missed 3 due to military service in World War II). He was a career .307 hitter with an impressive .394 career OBP, but most of his success came early in his Major League tenure.
He didn't have much power (his career high in HR was 3, and he had 17 career homeruns). He only made one All-Star Game. And it's likely that his good numbers were due significantly to hitting in front of Ted Williams.
And that doesn't matter. Pesky was much more than a player.
Johnny Pesky was a 92 year old baseball lifer who spent over 6 decades working for the Red Sox. He was a player, a manager, a coach, an instructor, an executive, and a living symbol; a personification of this team's history.
He passed away at the age of 92 yesterday. The Red Sox will wear black armbands for the remainder of the season to honor him.
I'm glad he was able to participate in Fenway Park's 100th Anniversary celebration.
Baseball was Pesky's life and livelihood. I wish more players on this current edition of the Red Sox cared about the game as much as players like he did.
And hopefully the soulless marketing mavens on Yawkey Way won't turn Mr. Pesky's death into an opportunity to cash in.