Happy Father’s Day
Boston Red Sox shortstop, and the namesake for the most famous foul pole in all of baseball, Johnny Pesky has died at the age of 92. Pesky spent parts of six seasons playing for the Sox, and also with the Detroit Tigers and the Washington Senators. A decent hitter, Pesky finished with a lifetime .307 average, which included three straight seasons of over 200 hits, leading the league each year. (Those seasons were 1942, 1946, and 1947, since Pesky, like most other players of his generation, had his career put on hold by World War II.)
Pesky’s 1946 was his best, hitting .335 with 208 hits, and helped lead the Sox to that season’s World Series. He finished 4th in the AL MVP voting that year. (Actually the Red Sox took 3 of the 4 top spots with Ted Williams finishing first and Bobby Doerr finishing third. So much for splitting the vote.)
After the 1954 season Pesky retired and returned to the Red Sox in various capacities including bench coach, radio analyst, and unofficial “ambassador” for various on-field events. Pesky had his number 6 retired by the team in 2007.
Now about that foul pole. According to Pesky, Red Sox pitcher Mel Parnell gave the pole the nickname “Pesky’s Pole” in 1948 after the shortstop hit a game-winning home run that bounced off the pole giving Parnell the win*. (According to Wikipedia, Pesky never hit a game-winning homer during a Parnell-pitched game.) Although the pole was called “Pesky’s” for decades the Red Sox didn’t make the moniker official until 2006.
* That was one of only 13 home runs Pesky hit in his career.
(Image of Johnny Pesky’s 1952 baseball card is copyright of Topps and courtesy of baseballsimulator.com)
I was drawn to this photo because of their posture. I never get tired of the rigidity in old photos, no doubt because of the trouble it took to get people in front of a photographer. In this case, it also appears as though these two guys don’t suffer such frivolities lightly.
Source: The Library of Congress
Ed Phelps of the 1905 Cincinnati Reds. Phelps didn’t do too much as a ballplayer—he rattled around quite a bit and only once played in more than 100 games in a season—but he looks like he’s having a lot of fun.
Source: The Chicago History Museum (SDN-003033, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum).
Colliers, Out-door Number, April 28, 1902
The Yankee Clipper gives the love of his life a big ol’ smooch.
1941 was the year of the streak, of course. Surprisingly, he didn’t have career bests that year in most of the major offensive categories. His best OPS year was ‘39, his best RBI year was ‘48, and his best year for HRs was ‘37.
One notable career best from that 1941: he struck out 13 times. That’s it. 13.
(Source: The Library of Congress)