Is Larry Lucchino on his way out as top man inside the Boston Red Sox front office? Rumors started in a Monday column by veteran Boston Globe sportswriter Dan Shaughnessy say the new man in charge is likely to be a previously obscure investor in Fenway Sports Group, the company headed by hedge fund billionaire John Henry, that has owned the Red Sox starting with the 2002 season.
That investor’s name is Michael S. Gordon, pictured above right, a 49-year-old dad of four who lives in the upscale Boston suburb of Brookline, Massachusetts — and who in 2011 bought what one profile described as “a sizable chunk” of shares in the Red Sox, shares sold by the New York Times company, making him the second-largest shareholder in the storied Boston franchise, behind only Henry himself.
Like Henry, Gordon’s background is in the financial sector. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native who is a close friend of recently retired Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, started his career with Fidelity Investments, rose quickly through the ranks, and later partnered with another Fidelity executive, Jeffrey Vinik, to form a new company, Vinik Asset Management.
The $9 billion, once under the control of that firm, allowed Gordon and Vinik to invest in the Red Sox more than a decade ago. But when the pair shuttered their firm last year, according to a profile in Street & Smith Sports Business Daily, Gordon took on a more active role in Fenway Sports Group.
“Mike is well known among professional investors as being one of the brightest financial minds in the country,” Henry told WEEI.com.
“So he is involved in virtually all of our important financial discussions and decisions.”
Gordon’s primary role has been with Liverpool F.C., the English Premier League football (i.e. soccer) club also owned by Fenway Sports Group.
But according to Shaughnessy and other Boston sports observers, as Lucchino approaches 70 years of age, having led the Red Sox to three World Series titles and overseen an ongoing, widely praised upgrade of 113-year-old Fenway Park, the longtime baseball executive who held top positions with the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres before joining the Boston ownership group, is seen as having little new left to offer.
“There appears to be a subtle shift in the governance of the Red Sox,” Shaugnessy wrote on Monday.
“Ever-marginalized club chairman Tom Werner is always looking for more power, but the greater threat to Lucchino at this hour may be coming from Sox limited partner Michael Gordon.”
Though Shaughnessy describes himself as an unabashed supporter of Lucchino, the Red Sox CEO refused to answer his questions about whether he was on his way out of the Boston management team. Gordon has not publicly responded to the rumors.
[Images: Junko Kimura – Getty Images (left)/Street & Smith (right)]