Saturday, January 30, 2010
A Hometown Hero
Mr. Red Sox, The Johnny Pesky Story by Bill Nowlin; 2004; Rounder Books, Cambridge, MA; 282 pages; 1-57940-0884; 1/18/06-1/21/09 I met Johnny a few years ago at a Oregon Active and Oldtimers Association dinner. It is an organization that provides scholarships to up and coming Oregon ballplayers, and it also puts on a hell of a banquet. I have heard Tommy Lasorda, Tom Treblehorn, Max Patkin and Johnny speak at the banquet and met Steve Wilson and Steve Olin among others. Somewhere I have pictures, but who knows where. I spoke to Johnnys’ brother Vince last summer at a Portland Beavers game, he had given a ball to the Beavers that was signed in the mid 30’s.
John Paveskovich was born in Portland, OR in 1919 the son of Croatin immigrants who grew up playing baseball near the Vaughn Street Stadium were the Portland Beavers had played for years, at least since 1903. In his teen years he and his brother Vince became clubhouse boys for the Beavers. They were assigned to the visiting clubhouse and spent some picking up after the Hollywood Stars and San Diego Padres. Two of the many players they encountered were Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr who would later become Johnnys’ teammates. Johnny played high school ball and semi pro ball, he played for a nearby lumber mill that was owned by Tom Yawkey, owner of the Red Sox. One of his co-workers was Billy Grable, who later changed his first name to Clark and the rest as they say is history. He was scouted by several teams, but his parents were most impressed by the Red Sox. He signed with the Sox and played his way through the system making his major league debut in 1942. He missed the next three years after joining the US Navy for WWII and returned in 1946. He played into 1952 with the Red Sox before being traded to the Tigers for 2 and a half years. After retiring he managed in the minors for the Tigers and Red Sox and was promoted to the majors again in 1963 as the Red Sox manager. He managed for 1963 and ‘64 before being fired. Ever since then he has been some kind of special assistant for the Red Sox. He is starting to slow down some since he will turning 90 in September of this year. This was an fun read of a real gentleman who loves baseball and enjoys every aspect of it.