Henry Deserves Some Cheers
Would you like to grab a beer with the guy?
Ah, probably not.
But for a guy who’s brought four World Series championships to Boston during his 16 years as the principal owner of the Red Sox, John Henry gets no love in these parts.
And it’s not fair.
After all, what’s the most important thing fans demand from their team’s owner?
Someone who opens their wallet and spends top dollar in the pursuit of championships. That’s it.
And Henry has done that consistently since he took over prior to the 2003 season.
When Henry and Tom Werner bought the team, the Red Sox were 84 years into a championship drought that some fans believed would never end.
The team was cursed. The team would choke in October.
After Sunday night, when the Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-1, to win the 2018 World Series, Boston has now won more world titles in the 21st century than any MLB team. And then there’s this stat: The Red Sox are 16-3 in those four World Series.
And it all starts with Henry, the guy that writes the checks. The 2018 Red Sox had the highest payroll in the Major Leagues. Their pitching rotation featured three former Cy Young winners -- Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello.
Their lineup features two of the top three American League MVP candidates in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez.
But Henry receives no love.
Maybe it’s because he speaks in a monotone voice that’s hard to hear unless you’re two feet from him. Maybe it’s because of the funny hats he wears. Maybe it’s because he exudes zero charisma. Maybe it’s because he rarely smiles and acts like a walking computer spitting out data.
Henry has been the best owner in the franchise history and it’s not even close.
Under Henry, the Red Sox have made plenty of mistakes. Signing Carl Crawford. Signing Pablo Sandoval. Signing Rusney Castillo. But Henry’s biggest mistakes have been when he’s overpaid players. Fans of plenty of teams around the country would love if their owner so freely tossed his cash around.
When it became clear that plans to build a new ballpark weren’t feasible, Henry didn’t cry over spilled milk. He did what he always does -- he opened up his checkbook and improved Fenway Park in all types of ways, including adding rows of seats above the Green Monster, one of the most unique seating areas of any venue in the world.
Under Tom Yawkey, the Red Sox were the last team to field a black player.
Earlier this year, after intense debate, a movement led by Henry was approved when Yawkey Way next to Fenway was changed to Jersey Street. It was the right thing to do.
“I am still haunted by what went on here a long time before we arrived,” Henry said prior to the vote.
Though he’s viewed as a numbers nerd, maybe there’s a cool guy lurking inside.
He attended the University of California as a philosophy major. But he didn’t graduate. It seems he spent too much time playing in two bands, Hillary and Elysian Fields.
Never knew the 69-year-old Henry had a musical side.
In October 2010, Henry was bashed by many Red Sox fans when the Fenway Sports Group bought Liverpool, the legendary English soccer franchise.
When the Red Sox stumbled, his critics took great delight in saying that Henry was spending too much time in England and that he no longer cared about his baseball team, which he had bought with some help for just under $700 million. It was nonsense.
Down the road in Foxboro, the owner of the Patriots is beloved throughout New England. The Patriots have won five world titles under Bob Kraft’s watch. Kraft can do no wrong. Henry has now won four world championships.
During the parade Wednesday, fans will chant for Mookie, girls will swoon over Andrew Benintendi, Steve Pearce will be greeted like a rock star and Price will receive adulation that seemed impossible just two weeks ago.
The principal owner?
No, not so much.
Maybe he’s not a guy to grab a beer with. But Henry deserves to be cheered.
Follow Barry Scanlon on Twitter@BarryScanlonSun