Former Boston Red Sox infielder Johnny Pesky, who was a loyal part of the Boston organization for more than 60 seasons, passed away today at the age of 92. Pesky played eight seasons between 1942 and 1951, missing time between 1943 and 1945 serving in World War II, and also managed the club twice, first for two years between 1963 and 1964, and then briefly at the end of the 1980 season.
Born on 27 September 1919, the same day that legendary player Babe Ruth hit his last home run for the Sox, Pesky amassed an eye-popping 205 hits, tops in the majors, and batted .331, second only to teammate Ted Williams, as a rookie in 1942; his efforts were enough to place him third in voting for the American League MVP. Pesky returned three years later in 1946 along with Williams and Dom DiMaggio to help his team finish first in the American League with a record of 104-50. His time away from the diamond had not diminished his skills; he led the league with a league-leading 208 hits and batted .335 that season, the third best average in the American League, to finish fourth in the MVP vote.
He again led the league with 207 hits the following year and finished his Red Sox career with 1277 hits, a .313 average, and an OBP of .393. In 1995, he was named an inaugural member of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. Pesky, who as a coach mentored other prolific Red Sox hitters like Wade Boggs and Nomar Garciaparra, also had the distinction of having his number retired by the Red Sox in 2008 and a Fenway Park feature, the Pesky Pole, officially named after him.