John Michael Pesky (born John Michael Paveskovich September 27, 1919, at Portland, Oregon), nicknamed "The Needle," is a retired American professional baseball player, manager and coach. He was a shortstop and third baseman during a ten-year Major League playing career, appearing in 1,270 games played in 1942 and from 1946-1954 for three different teams. He missed the 1943–1945 seasons while serving in World War II.
Pesky has been associated with the Boston Red Sox for 60 of his 72 years in baseball — from 1940 through June 3, 1952; 1961 through 1964; and continuously since 1969. Pesky also managed the Red Sox from 1963–1964, and in September 1980. His biography is Mr. Red Sox by Bill Nowlin, published by Rounder Books.
A left-handed hitter who threw right-handed, Pesky was a tough man for pitchers to strike out. He was the first AL player to score 6 runs in a 9 inning game. As a hitter, he specialized in getting on base, leading the American League in base hits three times - his first three seasons in the majors, in which he collected over 200 hits each year — and was among the top ten in on base percentage six times while batting .307 in 4,745 at bats as a Major Leaguer. He was also an excellent bunter who led the league in sacrifice hits in 1942.
He was a teammate and close friend of Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Dom DiMaggio. Their friendship was chronicled in David Halberstam's book The Teammates.
In honor of Pesky, the right field foul pole at Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, is known as Pesky's Pole, or the Pesky Pole. Former teammate and Sox broadcaster Mel Parnell named the pole after Pesky. The story goes that Pesky won a game for Parnell in 1948 with a home run down the short (302 feet/92m) right field line, just around the pole. Being that Pesky was a contact hitter who hit only 17 home runs—six of them at Fenway Park—in 4,745 at bats in the major leagues, it's quite possible that the home runs he hit there landed in close proximity to the pole. Research, however, shows that Pesky hit just one home run in a game pitched by Parnell, a two-run shot in the first inning of a game against Detroit played on June 11, 1950. The game was eventually won by the visiting Tigers in the 14th inning on a three-run shot by Tigers right fielder Vic Wertz and Parnell earned a no-decision that day.