Boo Ferriss remembers Pesky as 'one of the greatest Red Sox'

Beloved Boston Red Sox infielder Johnny Pesky’s death Monday leaves Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer Boo Ferriss and baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr as the only living players off the 1946 Boston Red Sox.

Those ’46 Red Sox ran away from the New York York Yankees to win the American League pennant and then lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

Pesky, who was 92 at the time of his death, was the team’s shortstop and hit .335, leading the league with 208 hits and scoring 115 runs. He hit second in the lineup, just ahead of the great Ted Williams.

“Johnny was a line-drive hitter who sprayed the ball all over the field,” Ferriss said. “He was a solid shortstop and a great teammate. He was a great encourager to me. He would always give me a lift when I needed it.”

Ferriss, Pesky and Doerr remained great friends through the years, talking often on the phone and seeing each other at Red Sox reunions, less often in recent years. Doerr now lives in Oregon, Ferriss in Cleveland.

Pesky talked about Ferriss in 2007 calling him “a great pitcher, but more than that an even better human being.”

Ferriss, who won 25 games in 1946 and pitched a shutout against the Cardinals in Game 3 of the ’46 Series, started Game Seven in St. Louis but wasn’t involved in the decision.

St. Louis scored the winning run in the eighth inning when Enos Slaughter ran through a coach’s stop sign at third base and beat Pesky’s relay throw home. Pesky was roundly blamed for hesitating before making his relay home.

Ferriss, 90, strongly disagrees.

“It wasn’t Pesky’s fault,” Ferriss said. “It was a heads-up play by Slaughter, just a great job of baserunning. People should have given him the credit instead of blaming Johnny.

“Doerr was yelling for him to throw it home, but with that crowd roaring there was no way to hear him,” Ferriss said. “I think Johnny saw out of the corner of his eye the third base coach giving the stop sign. When he got the ball, he had to hesitate a little bit to see where to throw it.”

Pesky, said Ferriss, should be remembered as one of the greatest Red Sox players of them all.

“Johnny had 205 hits his rookie season in 1942 and then spent three years serving his country in World War II,” Ferriss said. “Then he comes back and gets 208 hits in 1946 and 207 the next year. What a great player he was.”

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