Johnny Pesky, RIP

Boston Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky passed away today. Gordon Edes of ESPN has a good obituary here:

More than anybody else, Johnny Pesky embodied the Red Sox. More than anybody else, Johnny Pesky loved the Red Sox. More than anybody else, Johnny Pesky shared that love with anyone who ever asked for a picture, an autograph, a smile, a story. And often, you didn’t even have to ask.

On Monday, just more than a month before his 93rd birthday, Johnny Pesky died in … Danvers, Mass….

The Red Sox lost the greatest ambassador they ever had, and a damn good ballplayer too, a shortstop who had 200 hits in each of his first three seasons, a lifetime batting average of .307 and, like [Ted] Williams, might have put up even gaudier numbers if he hadn’t joined the Navy during World War II.

The rest of us lost one of our own, a guy…. who never embraced the notion that playing for the Red Sox entitled him to the prerogatives of royalty.

Pesky worked for the Red Sox for over sixty years and was one of the most important public faces of the franchise long after he retired.

Pesky was one of those players who lost a shot at the Hall of Fame by missing three years of playing time due to World War II. He posted HOF-worthy numbers in his first three seasons (1942, 1946-47), and likely would have done the same in the three years he missed in between. Modern sabermetric analysis strengthens his case somewhat, since his .307 batting average was backed by numerous walks, resulting in a lofty .394 on base percentage ( modern analysts consider OBP the single most important offensive stat).

Red Sox fans everywhere will miss Pesky.