Theo Nathaniel Epstein (born December 29, 1973) is the President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs.
On November 25, 2002, he became the youngest GM in the history of Major League Baseball when the Boston Red Sox hired him at the age of 28. In 2004, he was general manager of the club that won the first World Series championship by the Red Sox in 86 years and was in the position when the team won another championship in the 2007 season. Epstein resigned in October 2005, but was rehired as GM and Executive Vice President on January 24, 2006. On October 21, 2011 he resigned from his job in Boston to become President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs.
Early life and family
Epstein was born in New York City and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts. He attended Brookline High School (a 1991 graduate), and played baseball for the Brookline High School Warriors, but dreamed of working for the Red Sox. Epstein has a 6 second older fraternal twin brother, Paul who is a high school guidance counselor in Brookline, MA. He is co-founder of The Foundation to be Named Later, in 2005.
Epstein's grandfather, Philip G. Epstein, and great-uncle, Julius J. Epstein – with Howard E. Koch – won Academy Awards for the screenplay of Casablanca, while his father, novelist Leslie Epstein, heads the Creative Writing Program at Boston University. Epstein's sister, Anya, was a screenwriter (Homicide: Life on the Street and Tell Me You Love Me).
An early report on the marriage from Boston Globe sportswriter Gordon Edes reported the site of the wedding was Nathan's Famous hot dog stand at Coney Island. Edes later published a correction, noting that he had fallen for a prank by Theo's father, Leslie. The site and actual date of the wedding was never released, but the Boston Herald later published a story claiming the wedding took place on Red Sox owner John Henry's yacht in Saint Thomas.
Early career and education
Epstein attended Yale University where he lived at Jonathan Edwards College. He served as sports editor of the Yale Daily News, where Mitch Raab was his boss. He graduated in 1995 with a degree in American Studies. Eventually he took a job in the public relations department of the San Diego Padres where he worked closely with Larry Lucchino; soon Epstein became the team's Director of Baseball Operations. While working for the Padres, he studied full-time at the University of San Diego School of Law, where he earned a Juris Doctor degree.
Boston Red Sox
After leaving the position as the Padres' President, Lucchino became president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Red Sox on November 15, 2003 and hired Epstein to work under him. At the end of the 2002 season, Lucchino appointed Epstein to replace interim general manager (GM) Mike Port. He is credited with making several key acquisitions, including David Ortiz, Kevin Millar, and Curt Schilling, during his first tenure as Red Sox GM. These players were regarded as instrumental in breaking the so-called "Curse of the Bambino" when the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. It was the Red Sox' first World Series championship since 1918, which at the time was the third longest gap between championships for any Major League team other than the Chicago White Sox (1917) and the Chicago Cubs (1908).
On October 31, 2005, Epstein resigned, rejecting a three-year, $1.5-million-per-year contract for personal reasons. 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." Because it was Halloween the night he resigned from the Red Sox, Epstein left Fenway Park wearing a gorilla suit in an attempt to avoid reporters. A witness reported spotting a person wearing a gorilla suit driving a Volvo similar to Epstein's that night. The suit was loaned to him and was later auctioned for $21,000. The money raised was given to The Jimmy Fund and the Foundation to be Named Later.
Epstein remained in contact with the team's front office and on January 12, 2006, and he and Red Sox management announced his return. Six days later, the team announced that he would resume the title of General Manager and add the title of Executive Vice President. In November 2007, Epstein announced, at the annual General Manager meeting, that he had signed a new contract with the Red Sox but declined to disclose the terms of the deal.
In December 2007, Epstein was mentioned in the Mitchell Report regarding a November 2006 email exchange he had had with Red Sox scout Marc DelPiano on the possible acquisition of closer Éric Gagné. In the email, Epstein asked DelPiano, "Have you done any digging on Gagné? I know the Dodgers think he was a steroid guy. Maybe so. What do you hear on his medical?" DelPiano replied that "steroids IS the issue" with Gagné, questioned his "poise and commitment" and expressed questions about his durability "without steroid help." Despite DelPiano's reservations about Gagné, Epstein traded Kason Gabbard and minor league outfielders David Murphy and Engel Beltré to the Texas Rangers for Gagné on July 31, 2007.
On October 12, 2011, Epstein agreed to a five-year contract worth $18.5 million with the Chicago Cubs. On October 19, 2011 it was reported that Epstein's official title with the Cubs would be President and that San Diego Padres General Manager Jed Hoyer would take the GM position with the Cubs.
On October 23, 2011 he took out a full page ad in The Boston Globe, thanking Red Sox fans and the team's owners for their support. Two days later, the Cubs officially introduced Epstein as President of Baseball Operations. Although the Cubs finished in last place in the National League Central for the first three years of Epstein's presidency, they advanced to the National League Championship Series in 2015, marking their first postseason appearance since 2008.
Epstein's "Hot Stove Cool Music" are biannual Chicago and Boston benefit concerts that have raised millions of dollars for the "disadvantaged youth and families" of Boston and Chicago. FTBNL co-founder Theo Epstein said in advance of the 2015 event, "We've collectively raised more than $6 million and look forward to increasing that total this year through another great night of music, baseball and giving back."
Honors and awards
In 2007, the United States Sports Academy named Epstein the recipient of its "Carl Maddox Sport Management Award."
In December 2008, Baseball America named Epstein its Baseball America Major League Executive of the Year.