Theo Epstein was the toast of Boston in 2004, after he helped build the team that won the World Series for the first time since 1918. The young general manager of the beloved Boston Red Sox could go anywhere or do anything he wanted in the city. If he wanted to jam on stage with his band, there were thousands of fans that wanted watch. He could do no wrong.
But after an up-and-down season in 2005, time came to renegotiate Epstein's contract. Just when the sides were about to agree to a new deal, Epstein rescinded and made his now famous walkout in a gorilla costume on Halloween. No one will really ever know what happened behind the closed doors. Some believed Epstein and CEO Larry Luchino were engaged in a power struggle. Others thought Epstein was forced out or that he was ungrateful. Neither side gave any details, and the Red Sox moved on, naming co-GMs six weeks later. But about a month after that, with any internal issues apparently resolved, Epstein made his return to the team with the title of executive vice president/general manager.
What They're Saying
Rob Neyer: "Both of them (former Red Sox co-GMs Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer) are immensely capable, and one or both will eventually be GMs (real ones, I mean). So why not now? Because the prodigal son must return. This organization, which was supposed to be fueled by reason, lately seems to be running largely on emotion. Epstein is a fantastic baseball executive, but he's human and he makes mistakes just like you and me. Not nearly as often as you or me (well, certainly not me). But he does make mistakes, and the franchise wasn't going to fall apart without him."
Jan. 24, 2006
Buster Olney: "Theo Epstein is expected to rejoin the Red Sox in the capacity of an adviser, and when the machine is turning smoothly again, he'll step back into his role as general manager. He'll be back, and all is good.
"Well, sort of. There's been a respectable amount of collateral damage from the bizarre period, which is nothing that the Red Sox can't overcome, but there are plenty of wounds, and some of them might never be overcome."
Jan. 21, 2006
Red Sox need darning
Sean McAdam: "(Theo Epstein) returns, after a 10-week hiatus, with a mandate. It's up to him to determine the club's direction, philosophy and long-term plan. No longer will he feel himself being pulled in multiple directions. And in (Ben) Cherington and (Jed) Hoyer, he'll have two trusted lieutenants who are eager to work with their mentor once again."
Jan. 21, 2006