And Another Thing
The following was reported in Gordon Edes' Red Sox Notebook today:
In a crushing development for the former Sox great, Johnny Pesky was banned by Major League Baseball from sitting in the dugout at Fenway Park, as he has done regularly. He received a written notice of the directive. "I'm hurt by it," Pesky said. "If that's the end, that's the end. I'm not going to jump in the Charles River over it because I can't swim, but I didn't think this could happen. The game has changed, I guess. I understand that." Pesky said general manager Theo Epstein told him he would see what he could do to reverse the ruling . . .
As far as I can tell, the reaction by the vast majority of Red Sox Nation to this has been stunned silence. But as we know I'm a verbose fucker, and so here I go with another Official WTF? Rant (tm).
According to Baseball Library.com, John Michael Paveskovich was a shortstop, second baseman and third baseman for the Boston Red Sox in 1942, and from 1946 through 1950. He also played for the now-defunct Washington Senators. Furthermore, he managed the Red Sox in 1963 and 1980. He was named an All-Star in 1946. For the record, when Johnny Pesky was first playing for the Red Sox, the mastermind behind this current little stunt, Commissioner Bud Selig, was eight years old, and most likely still wetting the bed at night. He was twelve--and most likely being given Atomic Wedgies after school by his classmates every day--when Johnny became an All-Star.
The fact that either of them was alive in the 1940's is about where the similarity ends. While it wasn't until 1970 that Selig bankrupted his first baseball club, Pesky boasted a lifetime average of .307 over 1,270 games during a career that spanned nine years (not including a three-year break to serve his country during World War II). In his rookie season, with the Red Sox, he collected 205 hits, and finished with a .331 batting average, second only to Ted Williams. He helped lead the Sox to their first pennant since 1918 in 1946.
Which was the year Pesky became an unforgettable part of Red Sox history. According to Baseball Library.com:
The Cardinals and the Red Sox were tied 3-3 in St. Louis, with Enos Slaughter on first with two out. Harry Walker blooped a double into centerfield, and Slaughter was running with the pitch. Pesky took the cutoff throw with his back to the plate, checked Walker at first, then saw too late that Slaughter was racing home. Pesky's throw was late, and the Cardinals won the game and the Series.
"Pesky held the ball" is right up there with "Bucky Fuckin' Dent" and "And it gets through Buckner!" and "Timlin in the Eighth and Williamson in the Ninth." Pesky is an important and indelible couplet in the epic tragedy that is the Boston Red Sox.
There's a part of Fenway Park named after him, for Christ's sweet sakes.
And he doesn't even get the courtesy of a phone call. Or, better yet, an in-person visit with the gutless Commissioner to explain the move to him--that is, assuming it is explicable at all.
Have I mentioned he's 87 years old? He's outlived almost all of his playing contemporaries, and many of those he managed with. He's been a sage presence in the Red Sox dugout for years. Can you imagine being a Red Sox player being able to consult with Johnny Pesky about your game? That's like being a Yankee and being able to talk to Roger Maris or Mickey Mantle.
Would they prohibit Babe Ruth from the Yankees dugout?
In addition to simply living longer, Johnny Pesky has lived better, and meant more to the game of baseball, in his worst day on the field than Bud Selig ever will in his entire life. It's an audacious obscenity to tell him he can't go anywhere he likes in a park he almost literally helped build.