We’ve made our way down Yawkey Way and to the end of Van Ness Street. We’ve viewed the Banners of Championships and the Banners of Glory and as we reach where Van Ness Street melts into Ipswich Street we encounter Red Sox and Fenway Immortality in Bronze.
As you approach the first Immortality in Bronze, the shadows on Fenway’s outside wall hint at the mysticism of the structures as they come into view.
Previous posts detail the story of the Ted Williams Jimmy Fund Statue, which was dedicated in April of 2004.
Just beyond that is the statue of The Teammates.
Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio.
The first member of The Teammates to join the Red Sox was Bobby Doerr. Arriving in Boston in 1937, he ironically wore number 9 in his rookie season before switching to his retired number 1 the following year. He played until 1951, missing the 1945 season due to World War II.
Bobby Doerr, 1938 Goudey baseball card.
Ted Williams came upon the Fenway scene in 1939 and played for the Red Sox in four decades, retiring in 1960. He lost the entire 1943, 44 and 45 seasons to World War II. He came to bat a total of only 101 times in 1952 and 53 while flying combat missions in Korea where John Glenn (he of NASA fame) served for a time as his co-pilot.
Ted Williams 1940 Play Ball baseball card.
In 1940, Dominic DiMaggio arrived to patrol center field at Fenway Park. The younger brother of Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio, Dominic played until he retired early in the 1953 season. He also missed 1943, 44 and 45 to World War II.
Dom DiMaggio 1949 Bowman baseball card.
The last of the bronzed quartet to arrive at Fenway Park was John Michael Paveskovich, Johnny Pesky. Joining the Sox in 1942, he played with them until he was traded to the Tigers during the 1952 season. He also missed 1943, 44 and 45 to World War II.
Johnny Pesky 1952 Bowman baseball card.
Collectively, the mates lost 11 baseball seasons to war! Much is often made of the fact that Ted Williams lost five full seasons in the prime of his baseball career and we can only speculate as to the what might have beens had he played those five years. There is no question that if he played and, of course, avoided injuries, he would have challenged the spectacular numbers put up by the Babe. However, there is the possibility that he could have suffered a career ending injury as well. So those speculations, though entertaining and fun to contemplate can never amount to anything but an intellectual exercise.
Oh, but just for the fun of it. Ted averaged 405 at bats a season in 19 years playing. He averaged a home run every 14.7 at bats. So, using those numbers he would have added 138 home runs to his 521 career total for 659 career homers, 55 short of the Babe!
The reality is that even though Williams gave five years to the service of his country in two different wars, it is Pesky and DiMaggio who may have sacrificed the most; for it is not a stretch to say that their missed years may well have cost them the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dimaggio and Pesky.
In Pesky’s rookie year, 1942, his 205 hits set a rookie record for hits in a season. When he returned in 1946, he banged out two more consecutive 200 hit seasons, leading the league in hits both years. In seven full seasons with Boston he hit .300 six times and scored 100 runs six times. A lifetime .307 hitter, he fell short of Hall of Fame credentials because he played but 10 seasons.
The same could be said of DiMaggio. A lifetime .298 hitter, he was a seven time all-star and he was a regular among the league leaders in runs scored. A wizard with the glove in center field, he too falls just short of Hall of Fame status due to only playing 10 full seasons!
It is safe to say that not one of these men would have had it any other way. Their friendship forged, lasted a lifetime and their story will live long after they are gone, forever forged in bronze outside the place they called home, America’s Most Beloved Ball Park, Fenway Park.
And so it is on this date in Fenway Park history, February 21, 2012.