Monday, September 24, 2012

Pesky gets sent off in style

When the news hit that just four current Red Sox players made it to Johnny Pesky's funeral last month, (some) fans and media went crazy. They saw the lack of attendance as a slap in the face to Pesky and to the organization he loved, and (most importantly) as a continuation of the season long pattern of a lack of caring, commitment, and effort from some players.

However you felt about that whole fiasco, seeing the player attendance at last night's Celebration of Life at Fenway was heartening.

The entire current roster stayed after their 2-1 victory yesterday afternoon for the festivities, and there were quite a few retired players, as well.  They ranged from the expected (Jim Rice, Tim Wakefield, Luis Tiante, Jason Varitek), to the unexpected but very welcome (Pedro Martinez, Bill Lee, Carlton Fiske, Rich Gedman), to the "oh my gosh what is he doing here?" (Roger Clemens).

I took a video on my phone of some of the tributes, but ran out of memory before El Tiante was even done speaking, so I'll just link you to a much better video from the Extra Bases blog.

After the spoken remembrances were over, the players left the stands and walked over to shortstop where they each placed a rose on the larger-than-life "6" that had been sculpted into the infield dirt:

(Personal photo)

The players then proceeded over to Pesky's Pole, where they each signed their name, and some left a small message:

(Personal photos)

Once all the players had been safely shepherded off the field, fans were allowed to walk around the warning track starting near third base, and exiting right after Pesky's Pole.  All along the Green Monster were tables with photos and artifacts from Johnny's life, including his minor league trunk, his navy duffel and medal, his ice skates, and various baseball memorabilia.  The last stop for fans before the pole was a table set with four books, allowing fans to scrawl a final farewell to Johnny Pesky.

The entire event was very well done, moving and entertaining in turns, but there is one thing I want to say.  For all the complaining from fans about lack of player attendance at the original funeral, and for this being a FREE event, I was not impressed by fan attendance.  Of course, I myself am a recent transplant to Boston, and if I were still living in New Hampshire, it would not be feasible to come down for this event.  But there are thousands and thousands of Red Sox fans living in Boston, and just a fraction of them showed up last night. Pot, meet kettle.

The fans who were in attendance were very enthusiastic, cheering, laughing, and crying when appropriate - but this lady was my personal favorite:

Great jacket, or the greatest jacket?

Overall, the whole evening was incredible, and I'm glad the Red Sox were able to give Johnny Pesky such a sendoff - if anyone deserved it, it was Mr. Red Sox himself.

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