Red Sox, fans pay tribute to Pesky
September, 23, 2012
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesGuests at the Johnny Pesky ceremony lay roses at the shortstop position in the Fenway infield.BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox called it “A Celebration of Life” as the club honored the late Johnny Pesky Sunday night at Fenway Park.
The touching ceremony was attended by many, including fans, the entire 2012 team and numerous former players, including Pedro Martinez, Luis Tiant, Jim Rice, Roger Clemens, Carlton Fisk, Jerry Remy, Reggie Smith, Bill Lee, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield.
Also attending the event were Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, manager Bobby Valentine, former players Lou Merloni, Keith Foulke, John Tudor, Rich Gedman and Joe Nelson, and former staff members Ron Jackson and Brad Mills.
It was a beautiful night at the storied ballpark, a place Pesky called home for 61 years before he passed away on Aug. 13 at age 93.
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesRoger Clemens, sitting next to Rich Gedman and behind Pedro Martinez, attends the tribute.
Pesky truly was an unforgettable figure for the Red Sox.
"Anytime you see Boston, you remember a legend. One of the few legends that I got to spend time and actually share a lot of moments, I can say a lot of moments with Johnny,” Martinez said. “If you think Boston is a tradition, you have to think about Johnny Pesky, Ted Williams and people like that, Carl Yastrzemski, the history.
"But everywhere in the history of Boston you seem to have Johnny Pesky. I know that every story about every season that ever started just started with Johnny Pesky in spring training. That was the first face you saw in spring training. Once you get there, you see that old man with the fungo and everybody will tell you, 'Hey, that's Johnny Pesky.'"
“He was the one standard that everybody looked to,” Fisk said. “Every time you came to the ballpark John was there. Back in the day when we used to take infield, there was John 60, 70 years old, he was still hitting the ball to the infielders when we were taking infield. More than anybody else, you can talk about Yaz or Dewey or Ted, all those guys. John was around a long time, before and after these guys. He was the face that I remembered most here.
“Baseball is so different from day to day. You have to forget what happened yesterday in order to perform today. John was the one consistent item in the season. He was always even keeled, he was always pleasant, he was always rooting for the game. No matter what happened he was always the consistent face throughout the season.”
There was a reason why everyone in Red Sox Nation loved and respected No. 6
“I just think that his soul was attached to Boston in some way that nobody is ever probably able to describe. That makes Johnny unique, that makes his soul unique, and just like we have the pole, I just don't think Pesky will ever go away," Martinez said. "If anybody thinks about going away from Johnny, they will probably have to look at the pole and right away remember who Johnny was.”
The ceremony included interviews with the different generations of players, including Clemens, Rice, Remy, Lee, Smith, Rice, Martinez, Ortiz, Wakefield, Varitek, Dustin Pedroia and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
The event closed with Pesky's son David, his wife, and current and former players and other guests placing roses in the shape of Pesky's No. 6 at the shortstop position on the Fenway infield and signing their names and messages on the Pesky Pole in right field.