The impact that Johnny Pesky made on the Red Sox during his 70-year career as a player, manager, coach and ambassador was evident on Sunday night when Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk walked onto the field at the start of the team’s tribute.
Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Jim Rice, Jason Varitek, and Tim Wakefield followed along with all of the players on the present-day roster.
Jerry Remy, Reggie Smith, Bill Lee, Keith Foulke, Lou Merloni and Rich Gedman also were among those on hand along with former coaches Brad Mills, Ron Jackson, Lynn Jones and Dick Berardino.
All spent countless hours with Pesky at Fenway Park and during spring training.
“It’s probably a cumulative memory of John. You can talk about all the guys that played for this team over the course of the years, but he sort of remained the face of the organization for the longest time,” Fisk said.
“He loved the game of baseball. He was one of those guys that transcended a lot of eras.”
Martinez was close to Pesky and misses his friend, who passed away last month at the age of 93.
“Anytime you see Boston, you remember his legend,” Martinez said. “You see Boston as a tradition, you have to think about Johnny Pesky, Ted Williams and people like that that.
“Everywhere in the history of Boston you seem to have Johnny Pesky. Every story about every season that ever started has started with Johnny Pesky in spring training. … I just think that his soul was attached to Boston in some way that nobody’s probably able to describe. It makes Johnny unique and makes his soul unique.”
The ceremony was a simple one. Author Dick Flavin spoke. Then a selection of players, past and present, shared stories about Pesky. David Pesky, Johnny’s only child, attended with his wife, Alison.
At the end of the ceremony, the players and guests laid roses on the large No. 6 on the infield at shortstop. They then all signed the “Pesky Pole” in right field.
Fans who stayed after the 2-1 victory against Baltimore gathered in the third base seats to watch, then viewed an exhibit of Pesky memorabilia on the warning track in left field.