At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

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MR. RED SOX THE JOHNNY PESKY STORY

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 4, 2007

 
THE JOHNNY PESKY STORY, MR. RED SOX, By Bill Nowlin. Rounder, Cambridge, Mass. Published in 2004, written by Bill Nowlin, with a posthumous Foreward by Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky’s 277 page story scores a solid B. 

You never forget Johnny Pesky once you’ve met him.  I have a friend who met Johnny in 1975 when he was  a kid in the Babe Ruth league in Pittsfield.  Johnny told the youngster  he would put a scout on him since the Sox were looking for young talent just like him.  That comment could raise a kid’s confidence along with his BA.   

That kid, now an adult, will always love Pesky, which is a common occurence.  You see, Johnny touches people on an emotional level.  No one gets more love when appearing at Fenway.  And no one belonged more on a parade Duck  with the 2007 Champs than Pesky. 

But, this book shares the details of Johnny’s life without charming the reader the same way Pesky charms everyone in real life.  This book is a straight accounting.  Author Bill Nowlin is very good, but he is  no story teller.  (See Tom Adelman.) 

John Paveskovich started from nothing, the son of Croatian immigrants.  His positivism &  grit helped him win the job of clubhouse boy with Portland in the PCL when minor leaguers like Bobby Doerr and Ted Williams came through.  In 1936 Johnny was doing Ted’s laundry in Portland.  Six years later, he was playing with him at Fenway Park.  

Red Sox historians will be pleased with the details of Johnny’s career.  The story of his minor league years fascinates. He shows up to compete with 65 others signed to Rocky Mount of the Piedmont League, each rookie bearing their own gloves, their own shirts and shoes.  They were from the the uncoddled masses, playing in a simpler time in small town America. Then Johnny builds a bridge to his manager, Hall of Famer Heinie Manush and his pro career is launched with a .325 season.    A solid performer, a shining teammate, a vital cog who thus ascends while excelling at every level. 

 Johnny’s life endures like a stone house.  65 years after his Fenway debut, he is still with the Sox, having played the roles of shortstop, third baseman, manager, coach, broadcaster, consultant, icon, and link from the past to present. 

He played with Ted Williams and hit balls to Yaz, Rice, Garciaparra and Ramirez.    His marriage to Ruth Hickey lasted 60 years until her passing in 2005.  He still makes appearances at Fenway and throughout New England.  I met him a year ago and asked him how good he thought  Jonathon Papelbon could be. “As good as Roger Clemens”, he said with a wink.  He told me exactly what I wanted to hear.  And I will always remember him for that.

Posted in BASEBALL, BASEBALL BOOKS, RED SOX, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

BARRY BONDS: SKIP THE TRIP TO COOPERSTOWN

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 2, 2007

Barry says he won’t come to Cooperstown.  Are you OK with that ?  I am.  But why do so many of us think  that Bonds should be excluded from the Hall despite the transgressions of those already in the Hall ? Babe Ruth was an unreliable,  game-skipping, drinking, smoking, fornicating machine of a man so self-centered & immature he couldn’t remember anyone’s name & thus called everyone “Keed”.   And he’s in.   Ty Cobb was an antisocial, bitter, racist, violent character who went into the stands at the Polo Grounds and beat senseless a cripple he suspected had called him a racial epithet, a nasty name that Ty himself used everyday for others.  And he’s in.   Ban Johnson & JG Taylor Spink conducted their businesses, the American League and The Sporting News respectively, for decades with shamelessly racist and biased designs to keep African Americans out of Baseball until 1947.  And they are in. The Hall of Fame isn’t Disneyland or Kindergarten.  It’s somewhat like a Revival Tent complete with sinners.  So why draw the line at Steroids  ?   Why pick on him ? Sure he chemically altered his body to produce 762 Home Runs instead of about 550.   There is no debate about that once you read GAME OF SHADOWS.   So what if he won’t talk to the media ?  So what if he disassociates himself from his team mates and has a private locker room with throne-like chair ?  Who cares ?  He’s a baseball player.  We don’t have to take him fishing.  He’s not coming over to grill and play jarts.  He’s not getting a Christmas card this year.  And frankly, HE DOESN’T CARE.  He has more money than he’ll ever need.  He has a knack, like Pete Rose, of maintaining an orbit of followers and enablers.   So let’s be at peace with that and move on to the issue at hand:   Keep out anyone who could go in based solely or largely on the abuse of records through the use of steroids.  KEEP BARRY BONDS OUT OF THE HALL OF FAME.  And that’s not all.  KEEP MARK McGWIRE OUT, TOO. Baseball’s long ago track record is indefensible but 50 wrongs do not make a right.  Let’s do the right thing as often as we can going forward and honor the game and it’s fans, the crown jewels of Baseball, the people who come together to enjoy the game & its  history, and the community of Baseball.   Barry has threatened to boycott his assumed induction if the record-breaking ball is now displayed at the Hall with an asterisk.  That is Barry’s right.   Let’s respect his rights.  He’s entitled.  Let’s go further.  Let’s resolve to forgive and support Barry when inevitably the hammer finally falls on him.   His drug dealer is still in jail for refusing to testify to a California Grand Jury.  He has income tax problems.  He will never be inducted into the Hall of Fame.   A career 550 HR hitting, 100-RBI, .320 hitter is going to be barred from the Hall of Fame because he cheated in order to become a 762 HR hitting physical oddity.  He has to live with the legacy of being one of the most disliked & disrespected baseball heroes of all time, right alongside Ty Cobb, for whom there is no legacy of justice and peace.  Leave Barry Bonds alone.  And leave him out of the Hall of Fame.

Posted in Barry Bonds, BASEBALL, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »