Theo N. Epstein (born December 29, 1973) is the former general manager of the Boston Red Sox. In December 2002 the Red Sox made him the youngest GM in the history of Major League Baseball by hiring him at the age of 28.
Despite his short tenure, Epstein's success in his brief career will most likely make him a highly coveted potential GM by other ballclubs if he choses to continue his career in baseball.
Epstein is a graduate of Yale University, majoring in American Studies. After graduating from Yale, he took a job in the PR department of the San Diego Padres, and rose in that organization to be Director of Baseball Operations. While working for the Padres, he earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego.
When John Henry bought the Red Sox in 2002, he appointed Epstein's former boss at the Padres, Larry Lucchino, as President and CEO. At the end of the 2002 season, Lucchino appointed Epstein to replace temporary GM Mike Port.
Under the regime of Henry, Lucchino, and Epstein, the Red Sox have stressed the discipline of sabermetrics, the analysis of baseball through objective evidence and methods. In 2002, they hired the father of sabermetrics Bill James to be a special advisor to the team, and also hired statistical analysts such as Voros McCracken. This devotion to the new wave of talent evaluation has seen the team stress on-base ability as the most important ability of a hitter, and not-so-coincidentally the 2003 Red Sox led MLB in runs scored. They led the majors with a .289 batting average, set a team record with 238 home runs, and set a new record with a slugging percentage of .491, breaking the .489 mark of the 1927 Yankees.
Epstein crafted the Red Sox team that finally ended the World Series title drought for the New England Nine in 2004. Excelling in the early part of the 2004 season due to Epstein's key free agent acquisitions Curt Schilling, Keith Foulke, and David Ortiz, the Red Sox stumbled at the season's mid-point. Shortly before the July 31 trading deadline, Epstein completed one of the most significant and controversial trades in modern Red Sox history by sending star shortstop and Boston icon Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs in a multi-team deal that brought first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and shortstop Orlando Cabrera to the Boston Red Sox. Epstein then brought utilityman Dave Roberts to the team, who in the ALCS would have one of the most significant stolen bases in Red Sox and baseball history. After the trading deadline, the Red Sox soared into the playoffs, sweeping the Anaheim Angels in the first round. In the ALCS, trailing three games to none against their rivals the New York Yankees, the Red Sox won four games in a row to send themselves to the World Series. It was the first time in MLB playoff history that a team had rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to win a series. In the World Series, the Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals in four games, for a historic eight game post-season winning streak, led by Epstein acquisitions Schilling, Foulke, Ortiz, and Mark Bellhorn.
On October 31,2005, Epstein rejected a three year, $1.5 Million per year contract for personal reasons, and walked away from his position. According to the Boston Globe, "This is a job you have to give your whole heart and soul to," he said. "In the end, after a long period of reflection about myself and the program, I decided I could no longer put my whole heart and soul into it."
- Epstein's father Leslie Epstein directs the creative writing program at Boston University and is an accomplished novelist. He has written nine novels. His most recent is entitled San Remo Drive and is based on his own childhood growing up in Hollywood in the 1940's and 50's.
- Epstein's grandfather Philip G. Epstein and great-uncle Julius J. Epstein won Academy Awards for the screenplay of Casablanca.
- Epstein was raised just a few miles from Fenway Park in Brookline where he attended Brookline High School. While at BHS, he played baseball for the Warriors and dreamed of working for the Red Sox.
Epstein was reported to have left Fenway Park wearing a gorilla suit. Because it was Halloween eve, he decided that was the best way to leave the office without attracting press attention. A witness reported a gorilla was driving a Volvo similar to Epstein's that night. It could not be confirmed if Epstein had rented the suit, or if it was someting he owned, and planned on using on a regular basis as his means of escape.
- Epstein's brother-in-law is the actor Dan Futterman, best known for his role as Judge Amy Gray's brother Vincent in the television series Judging Amy. He is married to Epstein's sister, Anya Epstein, a writer for the television series Commander in Chief.