|Photo from Jere|
Once again, if the Red Sox feel you’re important enough to retire your number, you’re important enough to be on this list. In this case, of course, number six has been retired for Red Sox mainstay Johnny Pesky.
I said at the time I was against retiring his number. In the first place, the Red Sox have their own criteria for retirement of numbers. Pesky didn’t meet them. But, they felt they would break the rules in this case. They had already bent the rules when they retired Fisk’s number, so I guess breaking them outright wasn’t all that hard. But, beyond that, I questioned whether Pesky was deserving of the honor. Had Pesky so excelled in that number that I couldn’t picture anyone else wearing it? That certainly wasn’t the case. As a matter of fact, when I think of number 6 on the Red Sox, I picture Bill Bucker walking off the field after game six ended. Not Pesky. I said I would have preferred they give Pesky a statue instead of a number retirement. (Which, they ended up doing when Pesky was honored as one of the ‘Teammates.”)
So, I always agreed that Pesky deserved some sort of honor. He’s been a member of the Sox in some capacity seemingly forever. Sixty Years. That’s incredible. He’s been an all-star player. He’s been an all-star coach. He managed the Sox to 147 wins. He broadcast the games on TV and radio. He did it all. He even had a foul pole named after him. That’s a pretty unique resume. Clearly someone with such a dedication to an organization deserves to be honored.
I was lucky enough to meet Pesky once. It was the Father’s Day catch they had a few years back. I was able to walk along the Fenway warning track, and have a game of catch on the outfield grass. Pesky was there signing autographs and taking pictures on the warning track in front of the Red Sox dugout. It was a pretty cool opportunity. He did a great job dealing with the steady stream of fans that wanted some of his time. He really seems to enjoy his role as ambassador, or elder statesman for the Red Sox.
6 is for number 6, Johnny Pesky.