Ordinarily, the death of a former shortstop on an American League baseball team wouldn't garner much, if any, attention in this space, deep in the heart of Cardinal nation.
But on Monday, Johnny Pesky, a key member of the Boston Red Sox World Series team that lost to St. Louis in 1946, passed away at the age of 92.
More importantly for me personally, he was my mother's favorite player.
My mom grew up in Milton, MA. Red. Sox. Nation. For my 37 years and in plenty more before that, Mom has bemoaned the notion that Pesky has been saddled with the blame for Enos Slaughter's ability to cross home plate with the series winning run in Game Seven.
In 1998, I worked at a television station in Victoria, TX, a small town in southeast Texas. I was working on a project profiling the city's minor league baseball history, and to my delight, learned that Pesky had managed the Detroit Tigers' Victoria Rosebuds, which played in the AA Texas League.
I reached out cold and wrote a letter to Pesky through the Red Sox organization and was thrilled some time later to receive a handwritten response. He recalled his time at the helm there and said something to the effect, "if you can make it in the Texas League, you can make it anywhere."
My career took a turn back toward my native New York before my project could make it to air, and to my eternal disappointment, I misplaced the letter before I could give it to my mother.
I'm fairly certain that I still have it--somewhere--but if not, this is one of the only places I've ever published anything about it.
I've compiled some photos here of Pesky, thanks to our friends at Storify, including a pair with Cardinals legend Red Schoendienst. Schoendienst, by the way, is a parishioner at in Creve Coeur.