BOSTON – Theo Epstein, who guided the Red Sox to their first two World Series titles since 1918 during his nine-year run as general manager, is returning to the fold in a more far-reaching role.
It was announced Friday that Epstein will be joining Fenway Sports Group’s ownership group while being appointed to the role of senior advisor of the company, subject to customary league approvals.
While Epstein being part of the Red Sox again is certainly a positive development, his scope will go beyond baseball.
FSG – a global sports, marketing, media, entertainment and real estate company – owns a wide portfolio of sports entities, including the Red Sox, Liverpool F.C., the Pittsburgh Penguins, RFK Racing and Boston Common Golf.
According to the group’s press release, Epstein will advise FSG owners John Henry, Tom Werner, Mike Gordon and Sam Kennedy on the company’s sporting operations across the portfolio and consult on strategic growth and investment initiatives.
“There is no question that Theo left an indelible mark on our history that represented a transformative era,” said Henry, the principal owner of the Red Sox since 2002. “Welcoming him as a member of our ownership group and in the role of Senior Advisor to the broader company brings with it a sense of completion.
“With his strategic mind, leadership, and unwavering passion for sports, Theo brings invaluable assets that will drive us forward across our diverse enterprises, especially in our sporting operations across hockey, EPL football, and baseball. We take great pride in welcoming him to the FSG family and eagerly anticipate the insights and contributions he will bring as we continue to build on the legacy of success he played a pivotal role in helping us shape.”
Epstein, who left the Red Sox following the 2011 season to run the front office for the Cubs and guided that franchise in ’16 to its first World Series championship since 1908, is excited to be coming back home.
“I am thrilled and honored to return to FSG, to join John, Linda [Henry], Tom, Mike, Sam and the ownership group, and to serve in this new role,” Epstein said. “This is truly a unique opportunity for me – a chance to partner with people who mean a lot to me; a chance to challenge myself in new arenas; and a chance to use my experience and perspective to help others succeed and win at the highest level.”
Epstein decided to leave the Cubs following the 2020 season. A year later, he was hired as a consultant to Major League Baseball, where he worked on the pitch timer and several other well-received rule changes introduced in the ’23 season.
Epstein will no longer be a formal consultant at MLB but will continue to help the league’s competition and on-field committees on an informal basis.
“I want to thank Theo for his insights and contributions to the rules change process, which has helped make the best game in the world even better for the next generation of fans,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. “Theo has accomplished so much in our game and has so much to offer. We look forward to continuing to work with him in his return home as part of the ownership group of the Red Sox.”
The Red Sox hired Epstein as an assistant general manager in March 2002. Eight months later, Epstein was promoted to general manager at 28 years old, and memorably announced that his mission was to turn the Red Sox into a scouting and player development machine.
With Epstein at the helm, the Red Sox reached new heights, winning it all in ’04 and ’07. The Red Sox reached the postseason six times in Epstein’s nine seasons as GM.
This time, he has a chance to influence winning for several different sports organizations.
“FSG is a dynamic, groundbreaking organization with an incredible track record of accomplishment across sports,” Epstein said. “The special connection I feel toward this organization and the ownership group has stayed with me through the years. I am proud and humbled to return as a minority owner and advisor.”
Epstein joins FSG at a time the Red Sox are trying to emerge from a rough patch which saw the team finish in last place in the American League East in three of the last four seasons. Craig Breslow, the team’s new chief baseball officer, got his start in the front office after his retirement as a player with Epstein and the Cubs.
Given that this is Breslow’s first time running a front office, having Epstein as a voice he can lean on can only be a positive.
However, Epstein made it clear that he’ll be around to help the Red Sox and the other organizations across FSG’s portfolio rather than be the one making personnel decisions.
“In this role, I will not be the one making decisions; rather, I’ll be the one asking questions, offering opinions, building trust and supporting the terrific people at FSG to help us reach new heights,” said Epstein.