BOSTON, MA -- Yesterday, when I called Bruins hockey legend Milt Schmidt, 94, I simply hoped to get an anecdote on his baseball contemporary Johnny Pesky, who passed away Monday at the age of 92.
|Boston sports legends Milt Schmidt and Johnny Pesky
I thought there was at least a chance that Mr. Schmidt had run into Mr. Pesky frequently during their time in New England and I wondered what Milt might have to say about the passing of the Red Sox legend.
Little did I realize that not only did Schmidt and Pesky know each other very well, but that the baseball player had actually donned Bruins gear during practices in the early 1950s.
“The one favorite memory I have, is that during one of the workouts he took my hockey stick and made a rush towards me, and I took his baseball glove and I stooped over just like a baseball player would do waiting for somebody sliding into second base,” said Schmidt over the phone. “I remember that, plus the fact there was quite a few photos out there and I did sign quite a few for an autograph and I know that John Pesky’s signature was on the photo as well.”
As the only man to play, captain, coach and GM the B’s, Schmidt’s signature is all over the Bruins organization and the same can be said of Pesky, who served the Red Sox as a player, manager, coach and broadcaster.
But apparently, Pesky, whose red, white and blue No. 6 adorns the façade at Fenway, also left quite an impression on the man who wore the Black & Gold’s now-retired No. 15.
“We were very, very close,” said Schmidt. “He was such a great hockey fan, plus the fact that he worked out with us for several times.
“Needless to say that he was almost as good a hockey player as he was a baseball player. Until Joe Cronin found out about it and he thought he’d get hurt, so Joe Cronin said, ‘That’s enough of that!’ So John didn’t come out to play with us anymore.
“But John was also not just a great hockey fan, but a great pal and a great friend. Needless to say, one of my best friends that I have come across during my stay here in Boston.”
As the city mourns Pesky’s passing, Schmidt recounted happy memories of his good friend.
“John, was down-to-earth and you’d never know that he was a great baseball player,” said Schmidt. “What a good great man he was to know!
“He had nothing but kind words to say about me.”
And now, Schmidt has nothing but kind words to say about Pesky and Boston’s boys of summer.
“He was a great man for the Red Sox,” said Schmidt. “And more power to the Sox for looking after him.”