Birthday, Johnny Pesky
It was some years ago when I was
at Fenway park doing research and interviewing for one of my
baseball books. My son Fred was then a teenager and he accompanied
me to the park dressed in a red sweater and packing his baseball
glove -- just in case.
We arrived at the legendary park
quite a few hours before game time as is my practice when I am
working. Fenway was empty. There was no one in the stands but my son
anxious to catch a ball.
I interviewed one player and
then another and then interrupted Johnny Pesky who was hitting
fungoes and interviewed him. Gracious, enthusiastic, informed, the
man they call "Mr. Red Sox" gave me more than the time of day.
So I figured I could impose.
"See that kid in the outfield
stands with the red sweater. Could you hit a ball out to him?"
"And if I hit him on the noggin,
then what! We are all in trouble."
"You are right," I said, and
walked away to interview others.
Minutes later through the empty
ballpark I heard my son's voice and saw him running through the
stands to the home plate area. He was shouting: "I got it. I got
it." And he had a ball in his hand.
Pesky was near me and yelled.
"Get me that ball. The kid isn't supposed to have it."
I went over to my son and got
the baseball and brought it to Pesky.
"What's your son's name?"
I told him. He autographed the
ball "To Fred. Great catch. Johnny Pesky"
Fred is now an AP Correspondent
based in DC. He still has the ball.
And wonderfully we still have
the baseball treasure Johnny Pesky who gets his Number Six retired
and turns 89 on a terrific doubleheader weekend at Fenway Park
starting September 26, 2008!
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