ST. LOUIS - Those were tears of joy he didn’t even try to hide amid the wild celebration in the Red Sox’ locker room last night. Sure, some champagne had been poured on him, but those were Johnny Pesky’s emotions on display as he witnessed a scene that he never had a doubt he’d see.
Get that. He never doubted this day would come.
“I knew I would see this. I didn’t know if it was going to take 20 or 30 or 100 more years, but I knew I’d see it,” said the man who embodies the spirit of the Boston Red Sox. “Heck, I hope I live to see a second one.”
Pesky’s time with the Red Sox dates back more than 60 years, to 1942, back to a time when legends walked the sacred sod of Fenway Park. He has been the definition of loyal through good times and bad, a player, a manager, a scout, a confidant, a bench coach, sometimes just a guy to talk to.
To put in perspective what took place at Busch Stadium, consider this: For the first time in Pesky’s life, the Red Sox won a World Series. To weigh that even more, take note that Johnny Pesky, ladies and gentlemen, recently celebrated his 85th birthday.
And what he witnessed made for the greatest present he could have asked for. So many times as a Red Sox second baseman with those great teams of the 1940s, Pesky had been part of heartache, the team great, but never the best. When there was disappointment in 1967 and 1975 and 1978 and 1986, Pesky ached, too.
“I feel so good for the fans because they have been so loyal for so many years,” he said.
But there was no hiding his true reason for being in that locker room, for being part of the first Red Sox World Series celebration since a year before he was born. Pesky was there to represent the men who so much wanted to bring this sort of party to Boston years ago.
“I thought of Ted [Williams] and Bobby [Doerr] and Dom [DiMaggio] today,” Pesky said. “I thought of Vern [Stephens] and Boo Ferriss. Great players. Great people. We had great teams. We had great people. I wish some of them were still here to see this. They’d be very proud.”