Ozzie reflects on late, great Pesky

Ozzie reflects on late, great Pesky

Ozzie reflects on late, great Pesky
MIAMI -- Johnny Pesky's death sent ripples throughout the baseball community, from Boston all the way to Miami, where Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was taken by surprise when he was informed of the news.

Guillen, who has been around the Majors for 27 years, remembers the Red Sox legend most as a pioneer of the game who loved baseball as much as it loved him.

"It's a sad day for baseball, it is, when people like that put all his life and integrity and all he has into baseball," Guillen said. "It's something you have to respect and feel bad about. It's something people in this era, they got to look at those guys ... They went through a lot, and when those people pass away, you have to thank them every day."

Guillen said it's disappointing that many of today's players don't appreciate what players of that era did for the game of baseball. During his 13-year career, Pesky hit .307 and notched 1,455 hits. He played 10 seasons in the Majors that sandwiched a three-year stint in the military during World War II. After Pesky retired, he was still around the game of baseball, even raising the Red Sox World Series banner in 2007.

"He wasn't the type of old-timer guy that just quit playing, was done and leaves [the game]," Guillen said. "He loved to be around players, he loved to be around with a uniform on. I hope I live that life. I hope I live that long."

While Guillen would see Pesky every time his teams traveled to Boston -- first as a player and eventually as manager of the White Sox -- one of his fondest memories of Pesky involves the foul pole that bears his name.

During the final game of the 1990 regular season, the White Sox were in Boston, where the Red Sox needed a win to clinch a spot in the American League Championship Series.

Guillen came to the plate as the tying run against Jeff Reardon and ripped a ball down the line toward Pesky's Pole before right fielder Tom Brunansky made a diving play to end the game.

"I never forgot that day," Guillen said. "I hit the ball down the line and that place went from crazy to shut-up back to crazy. ... I hit that ball down the line, and I never hit the ball down the line. Never. I hit that ball right down the line and Brunansky made the play. I thought that ball was a triple, and he made that play and they went nuts. Right by the pole."