November 2, 2005

Red Sox owner blames himself for Epstein departure

By Daisuke Wakabayashi

BOSTON (Reuters) - Boston Red Sox owner John Henry
shouldered the blame for general manager Theo Epstein's
resignation on Wednesday and defended club president Larry
Lucchino who has been accused of pushing him out.

Epstein, one of the architects of last year's World Series
champion Red Sox, rejected a contract extension and resigned
from the club on Monday, saying he could no longer give his
entire heart and soul to the club.

"I hold myself wholly responsible," Henry told reporters at
Fenway Park. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would
ever happen. I had this romantic notion that Theo was going to
be our general manager for the rest of my life."

The resignation stunned Red Sox fans, who had elevated the
Boston native to rock-star status after he played a crucial
role in securing the team's first World Series championship in
86 years in 2004.

"I never foresaw the day when I would leave the Red Sox
organization," said Epstein, speaking to reporters for the
first time since his resignation.

"The way I look at it, you have to be all in. You have to
believe in every aspect of the job and the organization and
your ability to stay and do the job the right way."

The controversy surrounding Epstein's departure -- being
dubbed by the local media as "Theo-gate" -- centered around a
Boston Globe column that portrayed Lucchino in a positive light
and painted Epstein as incompetent and ungrateful.

The Boston Herald reported that Epstein became upset after
reading the column, because it appeared to be written with
information provided to the Globe by Lucchino.

"Larry Lucchino is not the root of the problem," said
Henry. "He's been maligned and blamed for the situation the
last couple of days. I think that's wrong and I think that's

Lucchino, who is part of the Red Sox's ownership group that
hired Epstein, did not attend the news conference.

Epstein personnel moves provided the backbone of the Red
Sox championship. In 2003, he signed David Ortiz without much
fanfare and watched the slugger become one of the most feared
hitters in baseball.

Then he engineered a trade for ace pitcher Curt Schilling
and signed closer Keith Foulke, who made the last out in the
deciding World Series victory.