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Tom Werner
In a Fenway state of mind

By Corey Gottlieb /

Of Tom Werner's many hats, none bear the interlocked N-Y of baseball's most historically elite franchise -- at least, not anymore.

A native New Yorker who grew up rooting for the Yankees, Werner has learned to walk the walk so endemic to the members of Red Sox Nation.

But there is New York blood in Werner, a faded but still-visible vestige of the boy who played baseball and stickball in Central Park every day and listened to Mel Allen and Red Barber call Yankees games on the radio every night.

"So many of my childhood memories in New York were based around baseball," Werner said. "I really grew up around the game."

Much of that growth was a function of Werner's relationship with his father, a bond forged by the fungo-hitting, his-game-becomes-my-game medium that baseball so often provides dads and their children.

"I remember holding my father's hand and seeing that green field as I walked into Yankee Stadium for the first time," Werner said. "That's stuck with me forever."

What has also stuck with Werner is a penchant for the history of the game, as he remains dedicated to the notion that baseball's sanctity -- whether embodied by Moose Skowron, Tony Kubek and the 1961 Yankees, or by a child and his father shagging flies at Central Park -- is maintained through the safeguarding of its roots.

It is there that the story takes an ironic twist, as Werner's desire to freeze-frame the game's purest moments materialized only when he discovered a subject contrary to his pinstriped upbringing: the 1967 "Impossible Dream" Boston Red Sox. The ambitious 17-year-old was in his first semester at Harvard during that improbable campaign and was inspired to create a documentary about Opening Day at Fenway Park for his visual arts class.


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"Granted, it was a divergence from the team I'd known, but Yaz [Carl Yastrzemski] and [Jim] Lonborg and '67 Sox gave me a sense of belonging in this new place," Werner said. "And the film, well, that just cemented my love affair with Boston."

Since co-purchasing the Red Sox in 2002, Werner has been instrumental in countless decisions, a soft but compelling voice within the well-documented triumvirate -- Werner, co-owner John Henry and team president Larry Lucchino -- that has lifted Boston to two World Series championships in the past four years.

Not surprisingly, the project closest to Werner's heart has been his preservation of Fenway Park. His commitment to the stadium has been unparalleled, a passion that keeps him forever rooted to the 16-millimeter images he created in college -- and, indirectly, to the memory of his father. Of course, the 58-year-old has a little bit of fun with the ballpark, too.

"After the Red Sox beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS [at Yankee Stadium]," Werner recalled, "me and John [Henry] and some friends played a late-night pickup game on the field at Fenway. It was kind of like everything had come full circle."

Full circle, perhaps, but what about his former Yankee ties?

"Everybody makes mistakes when they're young," says Werner.

Corey Gottlieb is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.