John M. “Johnny” Pesky, age 93, of Swampscott, formerly of Lynn and Portland, OR, died Monday, Aug. 13 after a brief illness. Born John Michael Paveskovich Feb. 27, 1919 in Portland, Oregon, son of Croatian immigrants, Jakov and Marija (Bajama) Paveskovich. (note: Major League Baseball has Johnny’s date of birth as Sept. 27, 1919, an adjustment made by Johnny in 1939 to meet baseball scouting age limits for tryouts).
He was raised in Portland, graduating from high school in 1939 where he was a standout athlete in both hockey and baseball, but ultimately chose baseball and the Red Sox for his career. During WWII, he served in the U.S. Navy and trained as a pilot. He was stationed at Gordon Field Naval Air Base in Atlanta. It was there that he met his future wife, Ruth C. Hickey of Lynn. Ruth was a Machinist Mate 1st Class who was assigned the task of starting airplane engines. Johnny and Ruth shared 60 years of marriage before her death in 2005. In their early married life, they lived in Lynn before moving to Swampscott in 1965 to a new home that Ruth had built. During his career with the Red Sox, Johnny held positions as player, coach, manager, announcer, special assistant to the general manager and Beloved Baseball Ambassador. Johnny worked tirelessly for over 70 years on behalf of the Jimmy Fund and several other charities. He was always willing to help all who asked. Throughout his life, Johnny had a love for the City of Lynn and Lynn has always been proud to claim Johnny as one of its own. His presence in the Greater Lynn Community was well known. The annual Johnny Pesky Friendship Dinner grew from a small handful to over 400 people. Along with his contemporaries, he would frequent local restaurants as “Chairman” of the “Breakfast Club.” Johnny prided himself on never turning down a kid for an autograph, no matter how old that kid might be. Always approachable, Johnny’s kindness to those that he met will be remembered by all.
He is survived by his son and daughter in law, David M. and Alison S. Pesky of Gloucester. His brother, Vincent Paveskovich and sister, Danica “Dee” Iveson of Portland, OR. Several Nieces and Nephews, including Joanne Deveau, Lawrence Corea, Jr., Michael P. Hickey, and Patrick J. Hickey of Lynn. He is also survived by his dear friend, Evelyn Leary of Houston, TX. He was also brother of the late Tony and Marco Paveskovich, Ann Franciskovich and Millie Love. Relatives, friends, and the general public are respectfully invited to visiting hours at the Solimine, Landergan and Richardson Funeral Home, 67 Ocean St. (Rt 1A) Lynn on Sunday, August 19 from 2-8 pm. Funeral Services and Burial will be private.
Donations may be made in Johnny’s memory to the Jimmy Fund, 10 Brookline Place West, Brookline, MA 02445. Directions and guest book at www.solimine.com