October 25, 2019

Bill James Is Moving On, Leaving The Red Sox After 17 Years And Four Rings

Bill James, the iconoclastic baseball thinker, is leaving the Red Sox organization after 17 years. James's job was described by the team as working "with senior management and the baseball operations department to provide research and analysis of special projects, and on-going concerns".

James was one of the first people hired by John Henry's ownership group, in November 2002. At the time, Henry, a big fan of James's Baseball Abstracts from the 1980s, said: "I don't understand how it took this long for somebody to hire this guy".

Less than two years later, Boston was celebrating its first World Series championship since 1918. James departs the Red Sox with four World Series rings.

In a post on his website, James wrote:
Every Purpose Under Heaven

Hey, everybody. The time has come for me to end my 17-year working relationship with the Red Sox, and I wanted you all to hear about it from me rather than from secondary sources. I'm guessing you may have heard talk about this, but we have reached a point of no return now, so this will serve as my public announcement.

I leave the Red Sox on the best possible terms. I am still friendly with everyone that I have worked with there, from the owners to the security guards. I still intend to pay the extortionary rates of DirecTV's baseball package so that I can watch every Red Sox game. Well, maybe not EVERY game; retirement means I don't have to stay up to watch them play a four-hour game in Seattle ending at 1:30. In exchange for that, next time we win the World Series, I won't get a ring.

A 17-year run is a long run. I mean, I did the Baseball Abstract for 11 years, and it still defines my career 30-some years later. You look at all of the people who are moving to the sidelines in baseball—Bruce Bochy, and Ned Yost, and Joe Maddon—I'm not only older than any of them, I'm much older than any of them. I was very fortunate to work in and around Fenway for a couple of decades, but my time has come. I'm 70 years old, maximum take-your-Social-Security-dammit age, and, to be honest, I haven't earned my paycheck with the Red Sox for the last couple of years. I've fallen out of step with the organization. The normal flow of work assignments to work products has deteriorated to basically nothing; honestly, I should have left a couple of years ago.

I'm not "retiring"; I'm just retiring from the Red Sox, and I'll start collecting Social Security, but I still have about 500 work projects that will go forward. I have two books written that I need to get published; I have more books that I am writing and more books that I want to write. The annual Handbook will be out in a week or so. I have a TV project in the works; I have big dreams. I'm going to get a dog, and a bicycle, and my wife and I will travel, as we always have. I'm only 70; I haven't quite decided whether I want to be remembered as a poet or a playwright or a mystery writer. I will continue to post articles here; in some ways my time will be more available now than it has been. I appreciate you all reading my work, and to the Red Sox: it's been a blast. Thank you all.
The bolded sentence is very exciting. I loved Popular Crime and The Man From The Train. I'll happily buy whatever books Bill James wants to sell me.


johngoldfine said...

'Man on the Train' in particular was a wowzer.

Maybe his last piece of advice was 'Don't lose Mookie' and that was advice ownership simply could not swallow or follow.

laura k said...

Quite a lovely not-farewell statement.

I'm going to get a dog, and a bicycle, and my wife and I will travel,

Three wise decisions.