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(E) Johnny Pesky - John Michael Paveskovich
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  04/24/2003 | People | Unrated
(E) Johnny Pesky - John Michael Paveskovich

 

JohnnyPesky - Paveskovich

This month's Vanity Fair (Hugh Grant on cover) features a story on Ted
Williams and mentions his deep friendship with Johnny Pesky, whose
parents were from Croatia. Pesky's formal name (which he signs his checks
and autographs with) is Paveskovich. 

Judy Feldworth

Johnny Pesky
John Michael Pesky

born John Michael Paveskovich

A slick fielder, Pesky is best remembered for plays he didn't make, the mainone in the seventh game of the 1946 WorldSeries. The Cardinals and the Red Sox were tied 3-3 in St. Louis, with EnosSlaughter on first with two out. Harry Walker blooped a double intocenterfield, and Slaughter was running with the pitch. Pesky took the cutoffthrow with his back to the plate, checked Walker at first, then saw too latethat Slaughter was racing home. Pesky's throw was late, and the Cardinals wonthe game and the Series. Seven years later in 1952, while Pesky was playing withDetroit, came another memorable nonplay. VirgilTrucks, who had pitched a no-hitter earlier in the season for the Tigers,was mowing down the Yankees. In the third inning, Phil Rizzuto hit a grounder toshort that Pesky had trouble getting out of his glove. The scorer originallycalled the play a hit. But as the game wore on and Trucks looked as if he couldget another no-hitter save for Rizzuto's hit, the scorer called the Tiger dugoutin the seventh inning. Pesky admitted he had misplayed the ball, the play wasscored an error, and Trucks had his second no-hitter.

These famous plays tend to cloud Pesky's otherwise distinguished career. Inhis rookie season, the lefthanded-hitting Pesky collected 205 hits (a Red Soxrookie record) to lead the league, and finished second in the batting race toteammate TedWilliams with a .331 average. After spending the next three years in theservice, he came back in 1946 to lead the Red Sox to their first pennant since1918 with another league-leading 208 hits, including 11 in a row at one stretch,for a .335 average. On May 8, he set an AL record by scoring six times in onegame, later tied by another Red Sox shortstop, SpikeOwen. In 1947, after getting married and gaining 30 pounds in theoff-season, he had an AL-high 207 hits to lead the league for the third straightyear, compiling a .324 average. He also had a 27-game hit streak during theseason. In 1948, with the acquisition of VernStephens, new manager JoeMcCarthy moved Pesky to third, and Pesky hit only .281, but led the majorsin double plays. After switching him back to shortstop in 1951, the Red Soxtraded him to Detroit during the 1952 season in a nine-player deal, where heplayed mainly second base. He ended his career with the Senators in 1954. Acontact hitter, he struck out just 218 times, never striking out more than 36times in a season.

After ending his playing career, he managed in the Tiger minor league systemfrom 1956 to 1960 and in the Red Sox' system in 1961 and 1962. He was brought upto manage the big club in 1963, but was fired with two games to go in the 1964season. He coached with the Pirates in 1965 and 1966, then moved back to Bostonand into the broadcast booth from 1969 to 1974. In 1980 he was interim managerat the end of the season after DonZimmer was fired. (SEW/EC)


Judy Feldworth
Department of Surgery
Saint Louis University
url:surgery.slu.edu
feldwoj2@slu.edu

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