The Red Sox and MassMutual agreed to terms Wednesday on a 10-year deal that will make the Springfield-based insurer the team’s first uniform-patch advertising sponsor.
In addition, an 80-foot version of the company’s block-letter logo will replace the cursive “John Hancock” sign that has sat atop Fenway Park’s center-field scoreboard the last 30 years, with smaller signage appearing elsewhere in the ballpark and on other Red Sox digital properties. John Hancock opted out of its 30-year partnership with the Red Sox this past summer.
The deal is worth approximately $170 million over the next 10 years, according to an industry source.
The charitable foundations of the two companies also will partner on expanding the Boston Public Schools’ Fenway Park Learning Lab.
“We treated this process at the Red Sox on pursuing a partner in a very deliberate and a very discerning manner,” said Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy. “I confess, we were very selective about who we will partner with; our list of non-negotiables was admittedly quite long.
“From the beginning, it became clear there was only one name that fit that bill, and that was MassMutual. We knew that they were not only a perfect match because they check the box in each of the categories that we outlined as our goal for this relationship. But they were just as discerning about us as we were about them as a potential partner.”
Kennedy said he sought a partner that understands the region, has national and international name recognition, and whose leadership is compatible with the ball club’s and has the same values.
MassMutual was founded in Springfield in 1851, 50 years before the Red Sox.
Roger Crandall, the insurer’s chairman, president, and CEO, said, “You won’t necessarily think about life insurance and baseball being kind of intertwined, but they’re basically tied in the fact that we have core principles that are important to each other, and they’re things that last a long time.
“Life insurance is the ultimate multi-generational financial product that allows for people to care for their families and people that they love, and baseball is something that really gets in your blood.”
The compatibility at the leadership level Kennedy spoke of allows room for a Yankees fan, which Crandall sounded tickled to reveal at the end of his remarks.
“I can’t wait for 86 days from now, for spring training to start, and I’m even more excited for Opening Day and to see the MassMutual sign,” said Crandall. “And listen, I’d love for the Red Sox to do much, much, much better in 2023 than they did in 2022 — but not that much better. Because, I hate to say it as a Yankee fan born in New York City, second place is not a bad place to be.”
Linda Henry, chief executive officer of Boston Globe Media Partners, spoke to the foundations’ collaboration on the Learning Lab, which offers an experiential curriculum based on and in Fenway Park in math, science, language arts, and history for sixth grade BPS students.
She said the inspiration for the lab was her husband John Henry, who is the principal owner of the Red Sox and also owns the Globe; his knack with numbers, which led to his eventual professional path, was fueled by his love of baseball.
“It is our hope that we will find that same spark and connection with Boston Public Schools students,” said Linda Henry, “so together with the MassMutual Foundation, we’re excited to take the incredible history and richness like Roger was talking about at Fenway Park and turn that into a vibrant learning experience for Boston students by launching a custom and thoughtful program designed by top educators.”
Accompanied by students and educators from the Rafael Hernandez elementary school in Roxbury, BPS superintendent Mary Skipper thanked the MassMutual and Red Sox foundations for expanding the Lab program, which was created with assistance from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
“Clearly your winners today are the students behind me,” said Skipper. “On behalf of our 49,000 students, particularly our sixth graders across the city, we look forward to the partnership, we look forward to seeing this park as an education lab.”
The advertising patches will be new to Major League Baseball next season. Last March, players agreed to them as part of a new collective bargaining agreement hammered out with the owners.
Revenues from the patches will be applied to Red Sox players’ salaries, baseball operations, and capital investments, said Kennedy.
The patch will appear on one sleeve of both home and away uniforms.
There is a belief that TV close-ups of relatively static batters awaiting a pitch and pitchers preparing to throw mean more screen time than in other faster-moving sports such as the NBA (the Celtics wear a Vistaprint ad) and the NHL, which introduced patches this season. The Bruins wear a patch bearing the Rapid7 logo.
John Hancock’s presence on the Boston sports scene is rapidly disappearing. Soon after the Red Sox season ended Oct. 5, its electrified sign came down at Fenway. It also relinquished its longtime principal partnership with the Boston Marathon this year.
Michael Silverman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.