Theo Epstein poses with a young fan prior to a game between the Red Sox and Cubs at Fenway Park in 2017. Epstein, who as Red Sox general manager was the architect of two World Series championships, is returning to the organization as a minority owner and part-time senior adviser to its parent company, Fenway Sports Group. Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Monday was Truck Day, the Boston baseball equivalent of Groundhog Day. The departure of an equipment truck loaded with more than 20,000 baseballs brings the promise of warmer days ahead.

Yet the shadows looming over Fenway Park were ominous as the team’s gear left for a 1,480-mile trip to Florida. Red Sox fans have been waiting for a sign that management is ready to compete in an increasingly tough American League East. And they haven’t seen many rays of hope as the hot stove has remained ice cold this winter.

Many fans did feel signs of hope with Friday’s news that Theo Epstein was returning to the fold. The Brookline, Massachusetts, native built a pair of champions in Boston and knows how Sox fans feel. The future Hall of Famer turned the Red Sox into a winner, then ended a century-long drought in Chicago where he turned the Cubs in champions. He then went to work for Major League Baseball, where he was instrumental in bringing in rule changes that have been well received by fans.

Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Craig Breslow got his front-office start under Epstein in Chicago. This is Breslow’s first time running a baseball operation and it makes a lot of sense for the Sox to bring in an advisor to help him in Year One.

Epstein will be a perfect mentor for Breslow. Yet it’s important to note that he’s not coming back to work for the Red Sox. He’s here as part of the Fenway Sports Group ownership team, and will be asked to share his experience and knowledge in all aspects of the operation. That could mean helping Liverpool replace Manager Jurgen Klopp or helping to improve the Pittsburgh Penguins at the NHL trade deadline.

Epstein will most definitely help the Red Sox. Boston fans have felt ignored and overlooked as the ownership group has become a global behemoth. The timing of the Epstein news came a day after the official announcement that Fenway Sports Group had pumped a reported $3 billion into the new PGA Tour reboot that is expected to put the golf tour on better footing as it prepares to battle – or merge – with the LIV Tour.


Friday’s announcement that Epstein was returning was a clear sign that the ownership group had not forgotten about baseball. While he may be involved in all of the team’s holdings, the majority of his professional experience has come in the field of baseball.

“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,” Epstein said in a news release announcing his return.

The Red Sox have reached new lows in their relationship with many fans. Ownership has heard the boos at Winter Weekend and other gatherings around Boston. It’s hard to imagine any fans booing Epstein, the man who built a team that ended 86 years of frustration.

Team owners John Henry and Tom Werner trust Epstein’s decision-making process when it comes to team building. Team president Sam Kennedy has been one his best friends since they grew up together in Brookline. Breslow looks at him as a mentor who gave him his start as an executive.

It’s rare that one person checks off so many boxes. Epstein is a rare talent. No, he can’t pitch. But he can help the Sox rebuild the product on the field, and rebuild the trust fans once held in them to do the right thing.

That’s far bigger news than a truck heading south on I-95 on a cold day in February.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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