REMEMBERING JOHNNY PESKY: Johnny Pesky who is synonymous with the Boston Red Sox, having spent more than 60 years as a player, manager, broadcaster, coach, executive and ambassador for the team, died Monday at the age of 92.
Pesky, who was a .307 hitter and was the first Red Sox player to have his number retired that was not inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame, gave up three seasons of his prime to serve his country in World War II. Fenway Park's right field foul pole bears his name - Pesky's Pole.
The Red Sox legend also has an association with the Town of Stoughton.
On his 86th birthday on September 27, 2005, Stoughton artist Elaine Felos Ostrander presented Pesky with a portrait she was commissioned by the Red Sox to do of him. She gave Pesky the portrait on the field at Fenway Park in a pregame ceremony prior to the Sox tilt with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Ostrander tells About Town the story of how it came to be.
Stoughton Chamber of Commerce Membership Director Joanne Schneider had met Pesky in a Saugus restaurant, Kowloon, and she and her husband Terry Schneider (the Chamber's Executive Director) suggested that Felos Ostrander talk to the Red Sox wives about doing something for Pesky.
Ostrander had worked on a cookbook with the wives, doing the cover. She had worked with Kathryn Nixon, Dawn Timlin, Kristin Mirabelli, Tiffany Ortiz, Shonda Schilling, and Jacque Francona. So, together they came up with the idea of Ostrander doing a painting of Pesky to give him for his birthday.
Ostrander told me, "The Red Sox paid me for the painting, and it was presented that night to him. My husband Ed and I were joined on the field by many of the wives, as well as the Schneider family. The next day, Johnny invited my husband and I to lunch in Swampscott, and took us back to his house to show us where the painting was hung. He was such a nice guy."
Joanne Schneider remembers it very well.
"It was probably January of 2005 when Terry and I and the kids were at Kowloon waiting to be seated," she said. "We saw him sitting with his wife, son and daughter-in-law. I tried to get up the nerve to go over and shake his hand. We walked over and shook hands. He was the nicest guy. It was as if he knew us. We congratulated him on the 2004 World Series win. He came out with a photo of him holding the World Series trophy. He signed the back and gave it to my kids."
Schneider added, "We ended up all going on the field and presented him with the story we had written about our chance meeting, while Elaine presented her painting."
Ostrander is no longer a Stoughton resident, although the is still open on Park Street in Stoughton. Her son, Ted Ostrander is now running the legendary spot which once housed the Twin-Kee Manufacturing Company, which made world-famous raincoats. He has a company called NoJoke Graphics.
She tells About Town, "I live on the Cape now. I’m still painting. I just finished illustrating a hockey book and I am doing a one person art show at Cape Cod Cooperative Bank in East Harwich." The member of the Guild of Harwich Artists adds, "I miss the people of Stoughton, but I love the Cape."
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: to Liz Taurasi Hughes, my former editor at the Journal, who is now Senior Regional Editor, for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire for AOL/Patch Media. She is also a mom now! And, to Lois Levy, a retired dental office manager, who is an active congregant at Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton.