Student athletes on the baseball team are given priority for the grant, made in memory of former Major League Baseball player John Paveskovich (later known as Johnny Pesky). The grant helps fund the Johnny Pesky Boston Red Sox Yawkey Foundation Endowed Scholarship
Pesky is the late brother of Vince Paveskovich, a 1941 graduate of University of Portland who played baseball and briefly coached the Pilots on The Bluff. Johnny changed his name to fit better in a baseball box score. He played for Lincoln High School in Portland and was associated with the Boston Red Sox for 61 years, including several years as a player and manager. He passed away in August at the age of 93.
In honor of Johnny Pesky, the right field foul pole at Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, is known as Pesky’s Pole or the Pesky Pole. Former teammate and Sox broadcaster Mel Parnell named the pole after Pesky. The story goes that Pesky won a game for Parnell in 1948 with a home run down the short right field line, just around the pole.
Vince Paveskovich played baseball for the Pilots and on two minor league teams in professional baseball. He coached the Pilots in 1949 and 1950. He and his brother John were also part of a local group of former baseball players calling themselves the Slabtown Boys. For more than a decade, the group has been meeting for breakfast on the third Tuesday of each month.
John Becic, an original member of Slabtown Boys, says that over the years the group has included as many as 25 former Pilots who played baseball on the Bluff or at St. Patrick’s church and school between the 1940s and 1970s. The group originally raised $25,000 for the University’s Pesky scholarship, which later was matched by Yawkey Foundation I. Since the original scholarship was created, three student athletes have received financial support.
The Yawkey Foundations (Yawkey I and Yawkey II) trace their origins back over seven decades to the philanthropic commitments of Tom and Jean Yawkey. The Yawkeys were perhaps best known for their longtime ownership of the Boston Red Sox. And they were particularly interested in supporting organizations that encourage educational opportunities, improve health care, enhance human service programs, provide youth and amateur athletic opportunities, celebrate arts and cultural endeavors, and value conservation efforts.
“We are happy to support the important work you are doing,” said James P. Healey, President of Yawkey Foundations, stated in a letter to University president Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C. “We wish you continued success during the academic year.”
The grant is part of the University’s RISE Campaign, which was announced in December 2010 and seeks to raise $175 million over the next several years. The RISE Campaign, which has raised more than $140 million to date, is one of the largest development campaigns ever for a Pacific Northwest private college or university.
The campaign’s goals are divided into four major themes, each with funding targets: (1) Pursuing academic excellence and faculty funding – $70 million; (2) Providing for access to all students and direct assistance – $45 million; (3) Developing faith and leadership – $10 million; and (4) Enriching the campus community and physical resources – $50 million.