Young Oregon native Johnny Pesky found the Red Sox before they found him, playing summer baseball with a team named the Red Sox sponsored by a company owned by Boston owner Tom Yawkey, per the Society for American Baseball Research.
After the 1939 season, Pesky turned down a larger bonus from the St. Louis Cardinals to sign with the Red Sox and quickly progressed through the minors, setting the stage for a rookie season for the ages in 1942.
Pesky took over as the Red Sox regular shortstop that season and set a rookie record with 205 hits, leading the American League, and wound up third in the MVP voting after a .331/.375/.791 campaign.
He lost the next three years to service in the Navy during World War II, but returned with his left-handed stroke very much the same, leading the American League with 208 hits in 1946 as the Red Sox won their first American League pennant since 1918.
He earned his only All-Star bid in 1946 and finished fourth in the MVP voting.
Pesky again topped the AL with 207 hits in 1947 before moving to third base the following season to make room for new acquisition Vern Stephens.
He topped the .300 mark every full season but one while with Boston, but struggled out of the gate in 1952.
Pesky was hitting just .149/313/492 in 25 games before he was traded in early June to the Detroit Tigers with Walt Dropo, Fred Hatfield, Don Lenhardt and Bill Wight, with the Red Sox getting Hoot Evers, George Kell, Johnny Lipon and Dizzy Trout in exchange.
A part-time player in his mid-30s, Pesky was traded to the Washington Senators in June 1954 and signed with the Baltimore Orioles after being released in November of that year.
In parts of eight seasons in Boston, Pesky hit .313/.401/.794 with 17 homers and 404 RBI and 867 runs, recording an OPS+ of 107.
In the 1946 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Pesky hit .233/.233/.491 and scored two runs.
Released by the Orioles in April 1955, Pesky embarked on his second baseball career as a coach in the New York Yankees organization that year before five seasons as a minor-league manager for the Tigers.
Pesky returned to the Red Sox organization as a minor-league manager in 1961 and managed in Boston in 1963 and 1964. After he was fired by the Red Sox, as much for clashing with Carl Yastrzemski as anything, Pesky spent three years as a coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
From 1969-74, Pesky was a broadcaster for the Red Sox, returning to the field as first-base coach from 1975-84. From 1985 and for the remainder of his life, he held the title of special-assignment instructor.
Pesky’s No. 6 was retired by the club and the right-field foul pole at Fenway Park has been dubbed the “Pesky Pole.”
The remark was initially a joke by former teammate and Red Sox broadcaster Mel Parnell about Pesky’s lack of power — all six of Pesky’s Fenway homers were tucked inside that pole.
Pesky died on Aug. 13, 2012 in Danvers, Massachusetts at the age of 93.