It's official: Red Sox rename foul pole after Pesky

Updated: September 27, 2006, 10:12 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- It's officially Pesky's Pole.

The Boston Red Sox renamed the right-field foul pole in honor of former player and coach Johnny Pesky before Wednesday's game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Pesky, a 56-year member of the organization, was honored on his 87th birthday with an on-field ceremony. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch to pitcher Tim Wakefield.

For years, many have referred to the pole as "Pesky's Pole" when batters have hit homers down the short right-field line, where the pole stands 302 feet away.

"This is a little unusual for me," said Pesky of the attention, while sitting in the Red Sox dugout and wearing a uniform with his No. 6 on the back during batting practice. "I'm a little flattered. This is really nice."

Former Red Sox players Bobby Doerr and Frank Malzone were on hand for the celebration.

Doerr, a Hall of Famer, was a second baseman who played along side Pesky, a shortstop.

"The guy had to work hard for what he has," Doerr said. "He's a Hall of Famer in my eyes. He's a great ambassador for baseball."

Pesky played with the Red Sox in 1942 and 1946-52, hitting .313, and held the club record for most hits by a rookie with 205 until Nomar Garciaparra broke it with 209 in 1997. He was the first Red Sox player to have three 200-hit seasons.

After his playing days, he managed the team in 1963-64, coached and worked in the radio-TV booth. He is remembered in recent years for hitting fungos to infielders before games, and current Hall of Famer Wade Boggs credits Pesky for helping improve his defense.

The team will place a plaque just before the pole on the outfield wall in foul territory.

"You sure they didn't make a mistake?" he said with a smile. "I hope I make it to next year."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press