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Epstein back in Boston for baseball, charity

As Red Sox host Cubs this weekend, clubs collaborating on fundraising events
Special to MLB.com

BOSTON -- With the Chicago Cubs in town for a three-game series at Fenway Park this weekend, team president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was taking full advantage of the opportunity to return to his hometown, this time as the man who was key to ending two of the longest-enduring World Series championship droughts in history.

At a charity event to begin the weekend on Friday afternoon, Epstein took a moment to reflect on what the Boston area means to him.

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BOSTON -- With the Chicago Cubs in town for a three-game series at Fenway Park this weekend, team president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was taking full advantage of the opportunity to return to his hometown, this time as the man who was key to ending two of the longest-enduring World Series championship droughts in history.

At a charity event to begin the weekend on Friday afternoon, Epstein took a moment to reflect on what the Boston area means to him.

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"I grew up here, fell in love with baseball here, had my first son here, spent ten years working for the Red Sox and a lifetime loving the franchise. It'll always be home," Epstein said. "I'm just so lucky I've got a second home now in Chicago. My youngest son was born there, I've spend five years working there and had a lot of good things happen. I'm just lucky to have connections to both these great cities. But Boston's always my hometown."

With the World Series champion Cubs coming to Boston, the opportunity arose for two of the game's oldest organizations to combine their efforts to give back to their respective communities.

The weekend-long collaboration will serve to benefit The Red Sox Foundation, Cubs Charities and the Foundation to Be Named Later, which was started by Epstein and his brother Paul in 2005.

The Baseball Champions for Charity luncheon on Friday, which also featured Pedro Martinez, Ryan Dempster, Jason Varitek and Bernie Williams, was an opportunity for donors to meet the panel and listen to their championship tales.

"This is what it's all about," said Dempster, the lone member of the group to have played for both the Cubs and Red Sox. "It's great what we do, or did out on the baseball field and were able to do out there. But at the end of the day, it's what we do off the field. Theo and Paul do an unbelievable job with their foundation, and everybody involved. To be a part of it in some small way and help give back is incredible."

"It's great to have the opportunity to come back, and be loved, and at the same time be loyal to some of my teammates, ex-teammates, and also to give back," Martinez added. "It's the most important thing."

Saturday night, the charitable efforts will get cranked up a notch at the annual Hot Stove Cool Music event, which will see Hall of Fame writer Peter Gammons and Epstein playing on stage alongside Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, among others.

It's an event that Epstein has successfully carried over to Chicago, starting in 2012.

While Epstein called this weekend a "college reunion" in which he expects to get little-to-no sleep, the opportunity to combine the efforts of the charities is seemingly as invigorating to him as the game itself.

"The foundation is a really cool thing to be associated with. It's a simple concept: Just take people's enthusiasm about the Red Sox, and now the Red Sox and the Cubs, and try to convert some of that enthusiasm into fundraising for a lot of nonprofits that do some of the most important work in our society," Epstein said. "One thing I can say for certain: Red Sox fans and Cubs fans are very, very generous and community-minded, and this is just a mechanism to direct some of those dollars towards nonprofits that we know do great work."

Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.

Boston Red Sox