Johnny Pesky adopted Lynn many decades ago as his hometown away from his hometown. Even though when he died last week he was a resident of Swampscott – and a longtime resident at that – Pesky had a real love for Lynn and at one time had actually lived here.
He knew Lynn inside and out and for many, many years he was accorded an annual dinner that attracted hundreds to the former downtown Nandees when that restaurant was perhaps the city’s best known meeting place.
Pesky’s personality was such that city and town boundaries came to mean nothing over a very long life devoted almost entirely to friendships made on the North Shore and except for a few years, nearly all his adult time spent with the Red Sox organization.
He was buried from the Solimine Landergan and Richardson Funeral Home here.
The wake and funeral attracted a huge throng with helicopters hovering overhead and all the major television stations sending their cameras for Pesky’s final act.
David Solimine, the principal of the home and one of Lynn’s best known and highly respected businessman and philanthropists, said he knew Pesky well and that he was a wonderful guy.
“He was a very quiet, classy guy. He treated everyone with respect. He knew the meaning of humility,” Solimine told the Journal.
In honor of Pesky, Solimine had a bouquet of carnations arranged in the number 6 in front of the funeral home for all who passed by to see. Pesky’s number 6 was retired by the Red Sox in 2008.
He loved the Hawthorne when it was open. He was a daily fixture at the Vinnin Square I-Hop before it closed. Then he moved on to the Salem Diner near to Salem State College where the owner there dedicated a table to him.
He attracted the mighty and the meek, athletes and businesspeople, young and old, men and women. He was a star in every way.
One of his great pleasures was showing off his Red Sox World Series ring.
For many, many years, he was one of the most recognizable Lynn/Swampscott types to have ever come down the line and he was accessible. He enjoyed being seen and he enjoyed bantering about baseball.
For decades he was a close friend of the late Mayor of Revere George Colella. The two quite often ate breakfast together at I-Hop. Colella was typical of the kind of people drawn to Pesky. He had remembered him as a player and they grew old together as friends.
He was born John Michael Paveskovich on September 27, 1919 in Portland Oregon. Early on, he was nicknamed “The Needle.”
He was a shortstop and third baseman during a ten year major league career.
He was a left-handed hitter who threw with his right hand.
He was a good batter – hitting more than 200 hits in three consecutive seasons with a lifetime batting average of .307.
Pesky was also a close friend of the late Ted Williams.
Late into his life he remained relevant and well known and achieved a tremendous amount of fame and renown as the last living Red Sox great from an era now long past.
He will be missed.