Johnny Pesky was my hero, just like my brother Russell
Johnny Pesky (who died last week) was not only a great baseball player at Lincoln High in Portland but he was also a whiz on the ice rink near Vaughn street park where the Portland Beavers played in the 30's.
I know because I skated with him when I had an extra dime.
He never knew I was skating behind him during open rink time though, as I fell down a lot and he sometimes whizzed past me going a hundred miles an hour and turning circles and skating backwards and other stuff. He never knew I was not able to let go of the rail but for a minute or two, when he came whizzing by, I would launch my skinny body away from the wall and try to catch him before he did figure 8's and other fancy moves.
He was the same age as I and played for Lincoln High as shortstop on the baseball team. Of course he was an all star athlete just like Donny Kirsch who was in my graduation class at Woodlawn grammar school. Don went on to the University of Oregon and later became the famous coach of the Ducks baseball team.
Pesky, of course, later played shortstop for the Red Sox, for like a hunnert years.
I was never a sterling athlete but I was a sterling hero worshiper.
Like many golfers I was thrilled when the 23-year old Irish guy named Rory, won the PGA trophy at Kiawah Island; for a couple of reasons. First he comes from the same Irish county where my own dad was born (Antrim) and that alone gives me some worship rights and he has the same first name as Rory Rice who used to live in Burien and still holds the course record for the lowest 18-hole golf score at Rainier Country club in Burien; he is also married to one of our best former editors and they live back in Illinois.
I worshipped my big brother Russell who was a pretty good fielder.
He was two years older than I and was a lot better ice skater and never had to hang on to the rail.
But one day he was trying out for the Jefferson High baseball team. He was in the out field and one of the coaches was hitting fungoes (that is baseball talk for fly balls) to a bunch of players. Russell was running really fast and hogging most of the fly balls. A coach watching, asked who that kid was and was really impressed and I thought even though he hogged every thing and made the other guys mad, Russell was prolly going to make the team. I told him so and he just grinned.
Then that night we went to the ice rink together and I was hanging on to the railing. Russell came by and looked so great and smooth and yelled to me to watch him skate backward and he did. I was really amazed. Then all of sudden he crashed to the ice. Some men came over to help him get up. You could tell he was hurting because his right arm was just kind of hanging there.
Yep. He had broken his arm and that took care of his playing baseball for Jefferson High.
He could have been a star.