NEW YORK - So after 67 years and no world championships, a “For Sale” sign hangs on Fenway Park once again.
Yesterday must have been a difficult day for Red Sox CEO John Harrington, a.k.a. the world’s luckiest accountant. But it was a day that was overdue. The vaunted Boston American League baseball franchise has been owned by a Wizard-of-Oz-like Trust for eight years now. Too long.
The Red Sox need an owner who will be accountable for the failures and successes of the team. The Red Sox need an owner with a name and a face. Most of all, the Red Sox need an owner with some money. No more invisible man behind the curtain.
Harrington kept telling us the club didn’t have the cash to get the new Fenway built despite a $312 million handout from the state and the city. The solution was so obvious.
Sell the team, John.
He will sell. And the fallout will be considerable.
Dan Duquette should be one nervous guy this morning. As long as Harrington was in place, the Duke was GM-for-life. It didn’t matter how much Duquette screwed up, or how many people he mistreated and offended, John wouldn’t notice. The Duke could offend everyone in baseball with his arrogance. He could mistreat manager Jimy Williams, Johnny Pesky, the scouting staff, or veteran players. It was OK. He could say the sky was green. John bought the whole thing. In Dan We Trust.
Now it might be different. The smug bunch who have had their way at Fenway all these years might have a new boss before the beginning of next season. Duquette and minions beware: There may be a “night of the long knives” before this shakes out.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is sad to see Harrington sell.
“I think you’ve had great ownership there,” said the Commish. “I think people think it’ll be better now, but time will tell.”
Meanwhile, we’ll have a ton of fun dreaming up names of potential buyers. I’m in favor of Steve Karp, David Mugar, and Joe O’Donnell - three guys who love Boston, love baseball, and have money (also three guys who hate Bob Kraft, but that’s off the topic).
How about Stephen King? The horror-meister lives in Maine, is a season ticket-holder, and has long wanted to throw out the first ball on Opening Day. He’s got the dough. Why not buy the team and make a dream come true? King’s sequel to “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” could be “The Guy Who Loved Carl Everett.”
Reactionaries are worried about the potential of a deep-pocketed person buying the Sox and moving them out of Boston to a place where taxpayers would gladly build a stadium for free. This is absurd. We’re talking about the Boston Red Sox, a cash cow guaranteed to make money as long as it feeds from the trough in New England. Think the Tennessee Red Sox could draw 2.6 million with a mediocre ball club? No. John Y. Brown is not going to buy the Red Sox.
Fleet already owns the world and just bought half of New Jersey to boot. Fleet’s Terry Murray would seem to be a candidate.
Can we be sure that Haywood Sullivan and Buddy LeRoux are gone for good?
Maybe Hartford will buy the Red Sox and move them to Yo Adrien’s Landing just to get back at us for laughing at them.
Would Jeremy Jacobs buy the team and put Harry Sinden in charge of the Red Sox?
The possibilities are endless. Most likely, the friendly concessionaire folks from Aramark, now limited partners, will attempt a majority takeover. This would create a conflict on the land purchase the club has to make because souvenir magnate Arthur D’Angelo is sitting on four of the 13 acres the Sox need for their new Fenway.
Yesterday’s bombshell briefing was historically significant. Tom Yawkey was a 30-year-old millionaire who had just come into his inheritance when he bought the Red Sox from the Quinn family in 1933. Yawkey rebuilt Fenway and made it the park it is today. The Yawkey name would reign at Fenway for the rest of the century.
It’s difficult to remember that the Sox had six owners before Yawkey, including the Taylor family, which also founded this newspaper (and built Fenway in 1912), and the infamous Harry Frazee, who sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920. Frazee’s great-grandson Max is an artist (specializing in serial killers) living in New York City, but is not in the market to buy the team and bring back the legacy of Big Harry.
John Harrington is a nice man. Community pillar. Goes to Mass every day. Loves his family. Devoted to the Jimmy Fund. But he doesn’t have the money to build a ballpark and he doesn’t have the vision to lead the Red Sox into this new century. The spirit of the Trust didn’t call for Harrington to run the Red Sox eight years after Jean R. Yawkey died.
Tom Yawkey bought the Red Sox in the teeth of the Depression. Three score and seven years later, as the Yawkeys finally yield, the franchise thrives, but Boston baseball fans are in a state of depression.
Time for a change. Time for new ownership.