The unique history of Pesky's Pole at Fenway

February 27th, 2023

Pesky’s Pole. Surely you’ve heard of it. It is as much a part of Fenway lingo as The Monster, the Citgo sign, the triangle and, well, the Fenway Frank.

When younger fans learn that the foul pole in right field is named after one of the most beloved figures in team history in -- born 103 years ago Sunday -- it is probably easy to assume he had a sweet home run stroke down the line in right.

Then you look up the statistics and become confused.

In a career that spanned 1,270 games (1,029 for Boston), Pesky hit just 17 homers. In 539 games at Fenway, the left-handed-hitting Pesky hit all of six home runs.

Well, as legend has it, Pesky’s teammate , a solid lefty who is in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, was the one who came up with Pesky’s Pole.

Though Pesky didn’t clear the wall often at Fenway Park, he sometimes benefited from that right-field foul pole that was and still is a mere 302 feet from home plate.

Now, Pesky’s Pole is pretty much a landmark. It has thousands of signatures on it from fans and players alike.

Despite the short poke to hit a homer off Pesky’s Pole, it only happens a few times a season. Straightaway right field at Fenway actually spaces out to 380 feet. The pole, tucked in the corner, isn't easy for hitters to aim at.

The most memorable homer hit off Pesky’s Pole was likely the one hit in the bottom of the eighth inning against Julian Tavarez to snap a 9-9 tie in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series. The drive struck high up on the pole, and thanks to the FOX microphones, viewers could hear the dramatic clanging sound that set up Boston's 11-9 victory.

The Red Sox went on to win that World Series by sweeping the Cardinals for their first championship in 86 years.

The most unique drive off Pesky’s Pole actually happened in batting practice, and you won’t be surprised who hit it.

It was none other than , who belted a ball so hard on July 21, 2016, that it got caught in the wiry mesh attached to the pole.

"You saw that? That was powerful right there. I wasn't expecting that but it happens," Ortiz said that night. “I've been watching balls hit that pole for years and never did any of them got stuck in there. It doesn't get any more powerful."

"I think some people went down and took a picture of splitting the chicken wire, the mesh, whatever it is, steel cage,” said John Farrell, Boston’s manager at the time. "He drove the ball right through the foul pole.”

The Red Sox formalized the name “Pesky’s Pole” on Sept. 27, 2006. Two years later, they retired his No. 6 to the façade at Fenway Park in right field.

Despite his lack of power, it is fitting that a piece of Fenway Park is named after Pesky, who was one of the great ambassadors in Red Sox history, serving in pretty much every role possible in a 61-year association with the team that lasted until his death at the age of 93 in 2012.