Sox players have no excuse for skipping Pesky’s funeral service

For this one post, we’re taking a little break from the world of BodyPump and Group Fitness, because a lot of inexcusable things are happening in Red Sox nation.

Those who follow the Sox – and those who know me know I am a diehard – have had to endure one of the worst seasons in recent memory. This team is a mess, on the field and off.

But after picking up the Boston Herald this morning and finding out only four players attended Johnny Pesky’s funeral service on Monday, that was the tip of the iceberg for me.

According to the Herald, Sox ownership had hired buses to take players from Fenway to the funeral service. The only four players to make the trip were David Ortiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Vincente Padilla and Clay Buchholz.

I know funerals suck. Nobody likes them. The day we bid adieu to my grandfather five years ago, temperatures in Millinocket were below zero, but the church was packed on that cold, January morning in 2007. It included the entire BDN sports staff. A very touching gesture.

Obviously, Johnny Pesky was way before my time. But I’ve heard plenty of stories from my grandparents of going to Fenway in the heyday of Pesky, Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr. Pesky was always a presence at Spring Training in Fort Myers. He cared deeply about Red Sox Nation, the fans, the organization and the city. A close friend of mine was fortunate enough to get a picture with him on her honeymoon in Florida a few years back.

How does the 2012 version of the Sox repay this man, one of a select few whose numbers  are proudly displayed on the right field roof? They use their off day to do God knows what. Where was Dustin Pedroia, the so-called leader of this team? Where was Bobby Valentine, who is wearing out his welcome already? Coincidentally, a huge bulk of the team attended Josh Beckett’s bowling fundraiser and country music show later that evening.

While it’s inexcusable that the players didn’t show up to pay their final respects – Nomar Garciaparra, Jim Rice and Trot Nixon were among the former Sox who showed up – it signifies what has gone on in Red Sox Nation this summer. It dates back to last September’s epic collapse. Nomar took time out of his hectic schedule covering the Little League World Series for ESPN to show up, and Trot came all the way from the West Coast.  It was also a nice touch for the entire team to wear Pesky’s No. 6 on Tuesday night, and the Los Angeles Angels showed a lot of class by wearing No. 6 patches on their uniforms that night.

Yes, these players are grown men and they have the right to make their own choices, but they owed it to Red Sox past and present to be there. Am I surprised that guys like Beckett and Jon Lester didn’t show up? Not at all. No beer or chicken fried chicken after the service? No go for these guys.

The season will continue for another month, the Sox will play out the string, and the wife and I will enjoy three games in Tampa next month. But the lack of a player presence at Pesky’s funeral only darkens the cloud around the storm known as the Boston Red Sox. Rest assured, New Englanders, the Patriots kick off in three weeks!

Rest in peace, Johnny. You will be missed. I’m sure you and Teddy Ballgame are enjoying a game of cards up there.

Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective with BDN readers about what's happening on the Boston professional sports scene.