Boston, MA – Johnny Pesky, who spent 61 of his 73 years in major league baseball with the Boston Red Sox, passed away at the age of 92.
Multiple reports stated that the beloved member of the franchise died Monday of natural causes.
"We have lost a dear and beloved friend," said Red Sox owner John Henry. "Johnny was happiest when wearing the Red Sox uniform. He was able to do that for 61 wonderful years. He carried his passion for the Sox, for Fenway Park, and for baseball everywhere he went, and he was beloved in return. We will miss him. We share the sadness that his family and legions of friends are all feeling."
Pesky played the first seven-plus seasons of his career with Boston, from 1942-1952, excepting 1943-45 while serving in World War II. Pesky notched at least 200 hits in his first three MLB seasons, and in 1,029 career games with the Red Sox batted .313.
The native of Portland, Oregon played primarily shortstop throughout his career, but also saw time at third and second base. He was named to his only All-Star team in 1946, when he batted .335 in 153 games for the Red Sox.
Pesky played with Detroit and the Washington Senators at the end of his 10-season career, but continued his ties to Boston. He managed the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate, Seattle, in 1961 and was the skipper of the Red Sox from 1963-64. Pesky then served as a coach and manager with Pittsburgh for four years, but returned to Boston in 1969 and had been with the organization ever since.
He served as a radio and TV announcer, special instructor at spring training, coach, and most recently special assistant to the general manager and special assignment instructor.
"Johnny was one of the wonderful links to 70 years of Red Sox history," said Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. "He was as loving and kind a gentleman as one could imagine. We know that those stories, and his spirit, will continue to live on at Fenway Park. We extend our sympathies to his son, David, his daughter-in-law Alison, and all of the members of the Pesky family."
In 2006 the right field foul pole at Fenway Park was dedicated as Pesky's Pole. According to Pesky, the phrase was coined by former Boston pitcher Mel Parnell, who was prompted to name it that after the left-handed hitter managed to swat a homer just beyond the pole -- 302 feet from home plate -- to win a game for Parnell.
Pesky finally had his uniform No. 6 retired late in the 2008 campaign. He was just the sixth Red Sox player so honored. The club has already retired the numbers of Bobby Doerr (1), Joe Cronin (4), Carl Yastrzemski (8), Ted Williams (9), and Carlton Fisk (27). Jackie Robinson's 42 is also retired, as it has been with all major league teams since 1997.
Pesky was also the only player among the six not to have met Boston's general qualifications for having a number retired -- election to baseball's Hall of Fame and at least 10 years played with the Red Sox.