Flush with money after receiving in an inheritance from his adoptive father, Thomas Yawkey purchased the Red Sox in 1933. The team hadn't won a World Series title in 15 years and hopes were high. Sixty-eight years later, the team still hadn't won another championship.
Flush with money after receiving in an inheritance from his adoptive father, Thomas Yawkey purchased the Red Sox in 1933.
The team hadn't won a World Series title in 15 years and hopes were high. Sixty-eight years later, the team having been owned continuously by Yawkey, his widow, Jean, or the remnants of the Yawkey Empire, the team still hadn't won another championship.
On Dec. 20, 2001, John Harrington, then the caretaker of Red Sox Partners, which was the remaining vestige of the Yawkey Era, agreed to sell the team to John Henry and his ownership group.
Within three years, 2004, the Sox had their first title in 86 years. Three years after that: their second, and today the Sox are looking to join an elite group of teams that not only has repeated, but has won multiple titles within a short time span.
The last time a team has repeated was 1998-2000, when the Yankees won three straight, so this is certainly a milestone for which the Red Sox are shooting. Truth be told, three championships in five years isn't exactly legendary stuff, but we all know what it means in Boston.
A Series win would be the eighth for the Sox, keeping them in third place amongst major league teams for World Series wins.
The Yankees, of course, are the runaway champs with 26 titles, the Cardinals coming in second with seven, but winning back-to-back would be big.
The Yankees won back-to-back titles in 1927-28, 1936-37-38-39, 1950-51-52-53, 1961-62, 1977-78 and 1998-99-2000. Otherwise, back-to-backs are few and far between. The Sox did it in 1915-16. The Philadelphia Athletics did it in 1910-11 and the Oakland A's did it in 1972-73-74. A few others have, too.
Just the fact that the Sox are in this position - to go back-to-back or win three in five - is attributable to the uniformed personnel on the field, but, let's face it, they wouldn't be there without "Theo and the Trio."
Henry brought in partner Tom Werner at the top of his group, included CEO Larry Lucchino and then took a chance on 29-year-old GM Theo Epstein to get to work on the talent.
Within two years the Sox were playing in the ALCS and on the verge of a World Series berth, and within three they were champions at long last. Under Henry, the team had embarked on a three-pronged campaign to bring the Sox back into championship form. First, they gave Epstein the ability to run the baseball operations. He began from the ground floor, rebuilding the farm system first and re-stocking the major league club.
Epstein began thinking somewhat outside the box, counting on on-base percentage as much as batting average. With the blessing of ownership, he was able to spend, attracting stars such as Curt Schilling as well as competent but overlooked veterans such as Bill Mueller.
More than anything, he created a congenial locker room atmosphere that has become the envy of players throughout the majors, a far cry from the days of Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra, who openly criticized their superiors and avoided their teammates.
"No wonder players don't want to play here," Garciaparra was once overheard saying. "This place is a (expletive) joke."
Epstein hired a group of young lions such as Jed Hoyer, Craig Shipley, Peter Woodfork and Brian O'Halloran. While older executives throughout the majors were doing the 9-to-5 thing, this group of 20-somethings was spending all-nighters in the Sox' offices, exploring all the angles, looking under rocks.
Along with baseball operations, ownership concentrated on making improvements for the fans. Each year since 2002 it has improved decrepit Fenway Park, carving out more space, providing more amenities, improving the fun quotient exponentially.
Finally, the team created the Fenway Sports Group, expanded sponsorships immensely, even expanding to the world of NASCAR to rake in more fans and cash.
The end result was an impressive cash flow that funded the on-field operations. Now the Sox find themselves in position to do what so few teams have done in the past: win back-to-back-and win three championships in five years.
The Patriot Ledger