SI Vault
The Fight Is Over The Red Sox, Not In Them
Steve Wulf
June 20, 1983
As general partners Buddy LeRoux (left) and Haywood Sullivan battled for control of their team, Boston sank in the standings
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
June 20, 1983

The Fight Is Over The Red Sox, Not In Them

As general partners Buddy LeRoux (left) and Haywood Sullivan battled for control of their team, Boston sank in the standings

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

The dramatic week that was for the Red Sox had bathos, pathos, intrigue, justice, nostalgia and a banana republic-style attempted coup. The only thing missing was a love interest. "No, not much romance, I'm afraid," said Edward G. (Buddy) LeRoux Jr., one of the leading men in the tragicomedy.

LeRoux, former ankle-taper to the stars, mini-mogul in health care and real estate and a jolly good fellow, is one of three general partners of the Red Sox. He headed a marvelous cast of characters, and he was either Mickey Rooney or Peter Lorre, depending on your taste. There was also Haywood Sullivan, general partner No. 2 as well as the general manager of the Sox. Sullivan, a former third-string catcher and protégé of the late Boston owner Tom Yawkey, was either Gary Cooper or Lon Chaney Jr. The leading lady was Jean Yawkey, erstwhile fashion model, widow of Tom, the mysterious eminence in Luxury Box No. 1 and the third Sox general partner. She was either Helen Hayes or Agnes Moorehead. Also on stage were a prodigal son, lots of lawyers, lots of tycoons and almost the entire cast of The Impossible Dream, which was Boston's big hit in 1967.

The real Red Sox, the ones on the field, were reduced to being extras while they were fought over in the courts, in the press lounge and in the executive offices. The players had begun the week tied for first place, but they then took a spectacular plunge to as low as fifth, extending their losing streak to seven games while falling as many as six games behind the American League East-leading Orioles. They did at least settle the question of who owned the Red Sox. The Tigers and Orioles did.

The Red Sox fans, to whom the team really belongs, could either laugh or cry at the proceedings. Or they could disappear, as many did. Walk-up sales dwindled to a precious few during the week, and on Friday afternoon Ticket Director Arthur Moscato surveyed the scene in the ticket lobby and said, "On Friday at this time the lobby is usually filled, the phones are ringing off the hooks and I wouldn't have time to talk to you. But now there's nobody here, the phones aren't ringing and I've got plenty of time to talk to you."

What follows is a brief plot synopsis: On Monday, June 6, LeRoux, who has been skirmishing with Sullivan and Yawkey for the last couple of years, declares all-out war. He announces that, under an amendment to the ownership agreement, he's in charge and is hiring a new general manager, Dick O'Connell, who was the old general manager. He does this against the backdrop of Tony C Night, which was supposed to be a heartwarming charity affair. Sullivan says of LeRoux's action, "It stinks," and tells LeRoux he'll see him in court. The Red Sox lose 11-6 to the Tigers.

On Tuesday afternoon, in Room 243 of the old Suffolk County Courthouse, Superior Court Civil Action No. 62138 begins and Judge Andrew Linscott hears the arguments of the plaintiffs, Sullivan, Yawkey et al. His Honor adjourns the case till the next morning, making both sides promise they'll keep their hands off the team in the meantime. The Red Sox lose 4-2 to the Tigers.

On Wednesday morning, Linscott hears arguments from the lawyers for LeRoux and Rogers Badgett, the money behind LeRoux. At 3:50 p.m., Linscott grants a preliminary injunction against LeRoux and cronies' taking over the Sox and schedules a trial on LeRoux's amendment for July 11. Sullivan holds a victory press conference at 6 p.m. The Status Quosox lose 6-3 to the Tigers.

On Thursday, Sullivan and the Red Sox get back to losing. Boston falls 8-2 to the Tigers, who regretfully leave town.

On Friday, the Orioles come into Fenway. The Red Sox lose 3-0. On Saturday, the Down The Tube Sox lose 10-6. Finally, on Sunday, the Red Sox pull out a 7-6 victory, to end the week tied for fourth, five games behind Baltimore.

The whole mess really started when Tom Yawkey, patriarch of the Red Sox, died in 1976. A year later, the Yawkey estate put the team up for sale and selected a combine put together by Sullivan and LeRoux, friends then, over five other bidders, including a group headed by O'Connell. The transaction was financed by Sullivan and LeRoux selling 30 shares at $500,000 apiece for a total of $15 million, plus $5.5 million worth of Fenway Park and other Red Sox properties that Mrs. Yawkey provided. LeRoux, Sullivan and Mrs. Yawkey were to be the general partners. LeRoux would take care of business, Sullivan would take care of baseball, and Mrs. Yawkey would take care of tradition.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4