BALTIMORE Before things got crazy in the Camden Yards visitors clubhouse on Tuesday, the mood was somber as longtime Sox players like Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz paid tribute to Johnny Pesky. The 92-year-old Sox legend passed away on Monday and left behind six decades of association with the Sox organization as a player, coach, manager, ambassador, special instructor and in the last decade or more of his life as a living legend.
Ortiz and Pesky had a special relationship as the two would engage in a playful give-and-take within the clubhouse and dugout before games, and always seemed to find each other for a victorious embrace when the Sox captured their World Series championships. A sad smile stole over Ortizs face when he was asked what Pesky meant to him during his 10-year career in Boston.
A lot, man. Ive been in this organization for 10 years and Johnny is what the Red Sox franchise is all about, said Ortiz. Thinking about Johnny Pesky and not being able to have him around physically is hard to deal with. Its pretty devastating to find out that hes passed away.
He was an unbelievable human being. He showed you from the very beginning what love for this game was all about. I always liked to be shadow him when he was around he had some good things to say. He had some funny things to say. Im going to miss all that.
There wasnt a single story that leapt to mind for either Pedroia or Ortiz when it came to the franchises elder statesmen, but his image is still abundantly clear. Pesky would walk around the Sox clubhouse with bat in hand and boast to the players that he could still go out and do some damage with the bat.
It didnt matter who was pitching, and it certainly didnt matter that Pesky was pushing 90 years old. The Sox players loved him for his spirit and energy that age couldnt take away from him.
If you can hit .300 in the big leagues thats something hard to do, said Ortiz. There are tons of stories with him. The most important thing with him was his personality: the way he handled his business. Even at his age he said he could still get a hit. That was how strong mentally he was, and I appreciated all those great times I spent with Mr. Johnny.