Liverpool suitor aims to replicate Red Sox success
Published 06/10/2010 | 10:13
Liverpool fans may be wary of another American owner, but in John W Henry they have a very different breed to Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
The quiet, reserved 61-year-old made his fortune in hedge funds, but has used it to indulge his sporting interests, most famously with the Boston Red Sox baseball team, but also in the NASCAR motorsport series.
The self-made multi-millionaire does not have the serious money of the Premier League's wealthiest owners, with his fortune rated at $860m (€620m) before dipping in the credit crunch, but he does have an excellent track record of success with his teams.
After owning a number of minor league teams, and briefly controlling the Florida Marlins, Henry and his partners in New England Sports Ventures, Tom Werner and the New York Times Company, bought the Red Sox in 2002.
In doing so, they acquired one of the game's most famous names but a team who could not translate their wealth and prominence into championships thanks to one of baseball's most endearing tales - 'the curse of the Bambino'.
The Red Sox won the World Series in 1918, but immediately afterwards sold emerging star Babe Ruth to their arch rivals, the New York Yankees.
While Ruth smashed baseball's records to establish the Yankees as the pre-eminent franchise in the game, the Red Sox suffered calamity after calamity as they bid to end their curse and win another title.
As entire generations of Red Sox fans passed without ever seeing their team win, many wondered if the curse was here to stay.
But within two years of Henry's acquisition the drought came to an end as they won their first World Series title in 86 years.
Three years later, they won the title again.
Henry has achieved this success while staying true to the rich traditions of the Red Sox.
Any temptation to move out of historic but restrictive Fenway Park, baseball's oldest ballpark, has been resisted, with the club instead finding inventive ways to maximise revenues in order to remain competitive with the Yankees.
The fortunes of the Roush Fenway Racing team have likewise risen since Henry bought into the NASCAR team in 2007, with the team winning their first Daytona 500 in 2009 with Matt Kenseth.
But it is the Red Sox model that Liverpool fans will be most keen to replicate.
If Henry can show the same respect for history in handling the stadium issue, and more importantly find a way to end the club's long title drought, Americans will suddenly become very welcome at Anfield once again.