The decades-long friendship of Red Sox greats Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky was immortalized in David Halberstam’s classic “The Teammates: Portrait of a Friendship.”
This morning at Fenway Park, the camaraderie and bond between between the four longtime teammates was paid homage in another way. The team unveiled a statue dedicated to the four Red Sox Hall of Famers (Williams and Doerr are enshrined in Cooperstown) located outside of Gate B at the intersection of Van Ness and Ipswich Streets.
There were no Jason-Varitek-splitting-the-uprights moments as Boston mayor Tom Menino did not attend the ceremony (but he was fumbling a bit across town) that included a number of political leaders and members of the families of the players being honored.
“We’re here today to honor four great men, four teammates whose contributions to the Red Sox, and the legacy and lore of the Red Sox cannot be overstated,” said Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino this morning. “Their given names were Robert Pershing Doerr, Dominic Paul DiMaggio, John Michael Pesky, and Theodore Samuel Williams. You cannot think of one without thinking of the other almost automatically. To most of us their known simply as Ted and Dom and Johnny and Bobby…”
“In civic life, and certainly in the world of baseball, a grateful community, a grateful Red Sox Nation can perhaps do no more than to show its appreciation, its gratitude, its respect than erect a statue. That is certainly true in the world of baseball. And this statue we hope conveys to you that sense of respect, and honor, and appreciation we have for all that you have done. This is the most sincere form of gratitude Red Sox Nation can bestow on you. And we bestow it on you also not just because of your playing ethics, your playing accomplishments, and your social commitment but also because of the years and years you’ve devoted to this franchise.”
Red Sox owners John Henry, who paid tribute to the late Halberstam, and Tom Werner read in tandem the dedication that is inscribed on plaque on the Teammates statue:
They came to Boston from the West Coast — 2B Bobby Doerr from Los Angeles Calif. in 1937; LF Ted Williams from San Diego, Calif. in 1939; CF Dominic DiMaggio from San Francisco in 1940; and SS Johnny Pesky from Portland, Ore. in 1942.
They were Red Sox teammates for seven seasons, but best friends for a lifetime. In total, they played for the Red Sox for 52 seasons and have over 150 years of service with the Red Sox organization.
They served their country in World War II, a total of 11 years.
They led the Red Sox to a record of 653 wins vs. 424 losses for a .606 pct. during their time together.
They sparked the Red Sox to 104 wins and the American League championship in 1946.
They were American League All-Star selections 36 times.
They were masters of their positions on the field.
They are all in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, and Ted and Bobby are also in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
They left an unmatched legacy in Red Sox history.
They are immortalized in David Halberstam’s poignant 2003 book, The Teammates, A Portrait of Friendship.
To Red Sox fans the world over, they are simply known as Bobby, Ted, Dom, and Johnny.
Longtime Boston media icon and Red Sox aficionado Dick Flavin spoke about the drive that he, Dom DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky made to Florida to visit Ted Williams in the fall of 2001. “I can tell you that that ride, that took two and a half days, was so entertaining, and so enriching, and the conversation was so wonderful, we never turned on the radio in two and a half days,” Flavin said. “And when we got to Ted’s home in Florida, he was indeed as ill as we had feared the situation to be. The most independent man in America was now dependent on others for everything he did. But to visit with him for three days was such a tonic to him, and such tonic to Johnny and Dom, that it was inspirational. And you could not sit there in their company without realizing that they knew a secret. And the secret is this: The most valuable possessions we have as human beings are our relationships with one another. And these old men, all in their eighties at that point, one of them desperately ill, who had known each other since they were a little more than boys, blessed with wonderful talent, consumed with ambition, made it all the way to this ballpark where they were such a success, and where they also suffered such adversity because they came so close every year, they were always one pitcher short of becoming truly a team for the ages… but that adversity bound them even closer together.”
Flavin then introduced Emily DiMaggio, wife of Dom DiMaggio, Pesky, and Doerr for the statue’s unveiling. “When I first got here I had to shine their shoes,” Pesky said of joining greats Williams and Doerr on the Red Sox. “Hey clubbie get over here and clean my spikes and hang out my wet clothes and all that stuff… Bobby Doerr and Ted Williams and all those guys, they were really good to us. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun here as kids…”
And then there was one more from Flavin before pulling the cover off Fenway’s newest addition. “Dominic, Pesky, Williams, and Doerr,” Flavin began. “Teammates long ago and for ever more. The team is the Red Sox, they were its core. They played as one unit, each of the four. Their team is what mattered, that’s how they kept score. They lived the same way for six decades more. Teammates then, teammates now. Their names etched in lore. Dominic, Pesky, Williams, and Doerr… do it.”
Dom DiMaggio died last May at age 92, while Williams died in July 2002 at 83. “The Teammates” chronicles the journey of Pesky and DiMaggio to visit Williams in his final days. Doerr did not make the car trip with them, instead staying with his wife, who had suffered a stroke.
“I want to thank John Henry here for keeping Fenway Park looking so nice,” said Doerr. “It’s always nice to come back and see the ballpark and for keeping the club up.”
Emily DiMaggio was grateful for the honor bestowed upon her late husband. “I want to thank the owners,” she said. “You gentlemen have done something for Boston… with this statue going on forever, you have completed your job. You’ve done a wonderful job and we’re so proud to be part of it.”
The statue, created by sculptor Antonio Tobias Mendez, features the four standing shoulder to shoulder holding baseball bats. The figures of all four players on the statue are depicted as they appeared in 1946, with similar uniform styles, caps and spikes. The scale of each of the four figures on the sculpture is 120 percent of their actual height. Ted, who was the tallest of the four in real life at 6 feet 3 inches, is the tallest figure at 7 feet 6 inches. Following the same scale, the figure of Bobby Doerr is approximately 7 feet 1 inch while the figures of Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky are both about 7 feet tall. Each figure weighs about 500-600 pounds and is made of cast bronze. The pedestal weighs approximately 15 tons and is made of Deer Isle Gray solid granite from Deer Isle, ME. It is 3 feet tall, 10 feet wide and 5 feet deep.
The existing statue of Williams putting a cap on the head of a child who is a patient at the Jimmy Fund has been moved a few feet down Van Ness Street to accommodate both statues. It was moved earlier this week and remains unchanged otherwise.
Check out our photo gallery of today’s ceremony.
The Globe’s Chad Finn contributed to this report. Information from the Red Sox public affairs department was also used.