Originally posted on Full Spectrum Baseball  |  Last updated 9/28/12

Johnny Pesky is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame, though he got some support for that honor. Nonetheless, the celebration of his life hosted by the Red Sox here on Sunday had a Cooperstown feel to it. Many former Boston baseball greats were on hand to be part of the occasion. Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk and Jim Rice were there. Likely future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez was there. Roger Clemens even showed.

The event attracted several hundred fans beyond capacity to Fenway Park. Those who attended the Sox game in the afternoon were allowed to remain in the ballpark for the ceremonies. Fans who had not been at the game were welcomed into Fenway as well. Every Sox player was in the stands as well, all in uniform.

Before taking their place in the box seats along the left field line, both Fisk and Martinez met with reporters. They shared memories of Pesky. “He remained the face of the organization for the longest time,” said Fisk. He first met Pesky as a minor leaguer during spring training in the late 1960s. “More than anybody else — more than Yaz, Dewey (Evans), even Ted (Williams) — John was around a long time, before and after those guys.” True.

“It’s probably a cumulative memory of John,” said Fisk. “You talk about all the guys that played for this team over the 100-plus years, but he sort or remained the face of the organization for the longest time. How long was he here? He was here for 50, 60, 70 years or whatever it was. He was the one standard that everybody looked to. Every time you came to the ballpark, John was there.”

Martinez felt that Pesky was the soul of the Red Sox.

“If anyone thinks of the tradition of the Red Sox in Boston, Pesky comes to mind,” Martinez said. He got to know Pesky later in life, when Pesky was approaching 80. The 2004 World Series winner provided Pesky with one of his greatest thrills. “I shared a lot of moments with him,” Martinez added. “Every story about every season seems to start with Johnny Pesky. You’d get to spring training and you’d say, ‘You see the old man with the fungo – that’s Johnny Pesky.’ ”

The ceremonies began at 6 p.m. Most of the current Red Sox players were escorted from the dugout to the field by a former Boston great with a corresponding résumé. Fisk and Jarrod Saltalamacchia came out together. Jon Lester came out with Bill Lee. Martinez came out with Felix Doubront, Andrew Bailey with Keith Foulke, etc.

At the end of the evening, fans were allowed to walk along the warning track and view exhibits from Pesky’s life. The last one they saw before leaving the field, a permanent exhibit that needed no label, was the right field foul pole.

“I just think that his soul was attached to Boston in some way that nobody is probably able to describe and that makes Johnny unique, makes his soul unique,” Martinez said. “And just like we have the pole, I don’t think Pesky will ever go away.

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