As if we needed any further proof of the character (lack there of) among this current Red Sox club, this week’s embarrassment takes the cake. This clubs collapse last season was tough to handle but not a shock as information became available. This club got Francona fired, as if he were the one losing the games. Oh, I know, he wasn’t fired. Face the facts, he was fired. No thanks to this collection of elevated, entitled nobody’s. The list of things contributing to the growing dislike of this team during 2012 is too long to list here. Ownership would rather entertain, sell bricks, delve into futbol, and sleepily address the public from behind their smoke and mirrors show, than win baseball games.
Today, I write about the players though. This week, this team essentially blew off one the most likeable, true gentleman, and talented members of the Red Sox organization, ever. Yes, ever. Johnny Pesky broke in to the Majors in 1942 at the age of 22. All he did was set a rookie record, leading the American League in hits with 205. Over the next three seasons he went off to war, serving his country in the Navy during World War II. He returned to the field for Boston and led the American League in hits and at bats in 1946 and 1947. In each of his first six seasons, Pesky finished among the top 8 players in the Major Leagues in runs scored. This during an era where the only guys scoring more runs than him were the likes of Williams, Musial, Ott, Kiner, and DiMaggio. He even finished in the top five in MVP voting twice. He had a lifetime .307 batting average (ranked 138th all-time of players with 3000 or more plate appearances) and an on base percentage of .394 (ranked 79th all-time). Among the storied history of Red Sox baseball, Pesky ranks in the club’s top ten of all-time for at bats, batting average, and on base percentage.
Those are measurable stats that anyone can look up. Pesky, though, may have been better measured by the number of smiles he gave and received. Or maybe it was in the number of years he represented his beloved Red Sox. Maybe it was the number of players he shared his experience with over the years. No matter how you slice it up, Pesky measured up. This roster of Red Sox players don’t come close.
Pesky came up when Major League players walked to the ball park. They actually mingled with the common man. They were common men. They worked jobs to earn a living when the baseball season was done, even the best players did. They weren’t entitled to anything. They were guaranteed nothing. They even went to war defending our freedoms. Freedoms that included playing the greatest sport on earth, our national pastime, baseball. He played when, God forbid, players were paid year by year, based on performance. They signed one year contract after one year contract. They didn’t save their best work for a free agent year because every year could have been their last.
I guess you can’t blame this current roster of Red Sox players for not relating to the descriptions above. You can certainly blame them for not knowing better though. All but four current players blew off Pesky’s funeral this week. They couldn’t give back a couple of hours of their precious time to honor a man who was a better player than most of them, a better man than maybe all of them, and who was more or less a part of Red Sox baseball since he was drafted 72 years ago. Pesky played his rookie year with Williams, Doerr, DiMaggio (Dom), Cronin, and Foxx, among others. I apologize for even mentioning this current Red Sox roster with Mr. Johnny Pesky in this piece. It’s not fair to him.
Embarrassing. Ridiculous. Selfish. Disconnected. Spoiled. Soft. Clueless. Entitled. Disrespectful. These are just a few words that come to mind when I think of these Sox blowing off Pesky’s funeral this week. Fitting as fitting can be, the Sox blew a 6-0 lead, en route to another loss tonight as I wrote this.
I’m happy that I had a chance to meet Johnny Pesky long enough to shake his hand years ago. I still have his autograph upstairs in my closet. I always paid special attention when I heard him talk about today’s ball players, especially when assessing their potential. After all, this man played along side Williams and Foxx. He faced Feller, Sain, Spahn, Lopat, Trucks, Newhouser, and Roberts, among others. He knew the game and he knew talent. Hearing him talk the game was worth listening to. Paying last respects to him at his funeral would seem obvious, especially for those playing for the organization that Pesky proudly represented for nearly 70 years. I mentioned earlier that Pesky and the players of his era were common men. If I’m right, then I’ll take a league full of common men over this group any day of the week. It’s clear to me, these Sox don’t deserve the likes of Pesky. Rest in peace Mr. Pesky.