It was a long, sometimes painful, haul for Red Sox fans to that first championship in nearly a century. Johnny Pesky knew the hurt of missing out in 1946 when he was blamed for “holding the ball” in Series Game 7, as St. Louis’ Enos Slaughter raced home with the winning run.
“It never happened,” David Pesky said. It was discussed endlessly, and his father always patiently listened to the debate. What actually happened is that the pause, if there was a pause, lasted only a split second and scarcely mattered. The 1946 team included Johnny Pesky’s close friends Ted Williams, Bobby Doer and Dom DiMaggio. (Williams fielded complaints, too, over his disappointing .200 World Series batting average.)
When the 2004 World Series was clinched, contemporary fans and players sought out Johnny Pesky, seeing the victory as a kind of vindication for all the great Sox players, from Jimmy Foxx to Williams and Carl Yastrzemski, who never quite grasped the top prize.
David Pesky was around baseball for much of his life but arrived too late to see his father play. For that matter, he never played himself.
“I could never see the fastball,” he said, laughing.
He knew his dad’s friends. “(Williams) was big and loud.” Some found the Kid big, loud and obnoxious, he conceded, adding that it was a bad rap.
“He was very kind. He did a lot for charity. ... Ted was a great friend of Johnny’s. Johnny admired him.” Both worked for the Jimmy Fund.
The Peskys lived in Lynn for a time, then Swampscott.
“It was home,” Pesky said. “He loved the people of New England.”
Born in the Northwest, the Red Sox star felt welcome almost from the moment he arrived. “
The community took him under their wing,” Pesky said. “He was well-liked on the North Shore.”