BOSTON -- There has been no further public discussion by NESN regarding its decision to sack play-by-play man Don Orsillo in favor of another veteran broadcaster, Dave O'Brien, a move that spawned wide criticism especially on social media. But the media coverage of that decision also has created some controversy.
The Boston Globe, which is owned by Boston Red Sox principal owner John Henry, this week took the highly unusual step of running a clarification in connection with a column written by Dan Shaughnessy, the Globe's lead sports columnist, in which Shaughnessy described what he called fan confusion over what he termed "the shabby treatment" of Orsillo. The original version of the column, which was published online Monday night, asserted that the Red Sox were confiscating signs supportive of Orsillo from fans attempting to take them into Fenway Park. Later that evening, that line was deleted from the column, and subsequently this note was added at the bottom of the online version:
- Clarification: Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this story made reference to signs being confiscated at Fenway Park. The reference has been removed because the Globe could not independently verify that any signs were confiscated at the ballpark. This story has been edited to describe the degree to which NESN intended to keep the news of Don Orsillo's departure confidential. The network did not intend to keep the information from Orsillo until January.
Shaughnessy could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
A Red Sox spokesman, asked Monday night to confirm whether signs were taken away, said that was not the case.
"Our gameday staff was advised to treat any signs about Don just like any others that come into the ballpark," director of media relations Kevin Gregg wrote in an email, "provided they didn't include offensive language, weren't displayed during play, or wouldn't obstruct any fan's enjoyment of the game."
Tuesday night, there was at least one prominent sign supporting Orsillo spotted in the third-base seats adjacent to the press box, but the widespread support for Orsillo seen on Facebook and Twitter did not manifest itself in a significant way at the ballpark the past three days.
In a Boston Herald column published Saturday, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and NESN CEO Sean McGrail said the decision to hire O'Brien was done to upgrade and "re-energize" the broadcast in 2016. O'Brien is a highly regarded broadcaster who has been part of the WEEI radio coverage of the team the past nine years in addition to extensive work for ESPN, including weekly national baseball telecasts.
Orsillo has refrained from comment.