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Ruthie Pesky, wife of Red Sox' Johnny Pesky

BOSTON -- Ruthie Pesky, the wife of Boston Red Sox special assignment instructor Johnny Pesky for 60 years, died yesterday after a long illness, the team announced. She was 82.

No further details were immediately announced.

She had suffered a heart attack in February and spent two weeks in a hospital before returning home.

Mrs. Pesky's 85-year-old husband missed the start of spring training this year to be with her and showed up in mid-March at the team's training camp in Fort Myers, Fla.

''It gave me an empty feeling not to be there," he had said about a week before arriving in Fort Myers.

''But my wife and I, we've been married 60 years and we always had a great relationship," he explained.

''I know when I was sick she was here for me, so now she's sick and I'm here for her," Pesky added.

They met in 1944 at the Atlanta Naval Air Station where she was an aviation machinist's mate and he was an assistant operations officer.

They were married on Jan. 10, 1945.

In previous training camps, Pesky hit grounders to infielders, talked with young players, and provided encouragement.

Pesky is in his 53d season with the Red Sox and has served as player, manager, coach, broadcaster, and advertising salesman.

Pesky has been with the Red Sox organization for the last 36 seasons in a row.

After his rookie season in 1942, Pesky spent three years in the service, then resumed his baseball career in 1946.

He left the Red Sox early in the 1952 season for Detroit and ended his career in 1954 with Washington.

Pesky has been with Boston since joining the broadcast team in 1969.

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