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August 13, 2012

Red Sox icon Johnny Pesky dies

BOSTON - Boston Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky died today at age 92.

Pesky was a player, manager, coach, scout and broadcaster for the Red Sox during his six decades with the team.

He was a teammate of Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr and a mentor to generations of Red Sox who followed, including stars Jim Rice and Nomar Garciaparra.

He may well have become a Hall of Famer himself, but missed three years of playing time while serving in the military during World War II. He later played for the Sox from 1946-52.

As an infielder he had a had a career .307 lifetime batting average.

His number 6 has been retired by the Red Sox.

On April 20 of this year, Boston Red Sox fans celebrated the 100th birthday of Fenway Park, and Pesky was a participant. He was wheeled out to second base in a wheelchair, aside Doerr, to join over 200 past Red Sox players and coaches through the decades.

Pesky gained a measure of infamy in the 1946 World Series when it was said he “held the ball” as Enos Slaughter dashed around the bases, scoring from first with the deciding run in Game 7 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Many baseball historians agree that it was a bad rap against Pesky and more a case of Slaughter’s aggressiveness and bad outfield play on the part of the Sox that made the difference.

Born John Michael Paveskovich on Sept. 27, 1919 he was nicknamed "The Needle."

He was a shortstop and third baseman during a ten-year Major League playing career, appearing in 1,270 games played in 1942 and from 1946-1954 for three different teams. He missed the 1943–1945 seasons while serving in World War II.

Pesky has been associated with the Boston Red Sox for 61 of his 73 years in baseball.

A left-handed hitter who threw right-handed, Pesky was a tough man for pitchers to strike out. He was the first AL player to score 6 runs in a 9 inning game. As a hitter, he specialized in getting on base, leading the American League in base hits three times - his first three seasons in the majors, in which he collected over 200 hits each year — and was among the top ten in on base percentage six times while batting .307 in 4,745 at bats as a Major Leaguer. He was also an excellent bunter who led the league in sacrifice hits in 1942.

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