Red Sox partner Gordon takes higher profile
When MLB Commissioner Bud Selig recently announced his new pace-of-game committee, the panel included many expected names, leaders of the sport and veterans of similar working groups.
But amid such predictable selections as MLB’s Rob Manfred and Joe Torre and the union’s Tony Clark, one new name jumped out: Boston Red Sox partner Michael Gordon.
Despite Gordon’s preference to remain behind the scenes, he is now the second-largest stakeholder in Red Sox parent company Fenway Sports Group, trailing only Henry, and in the last two years has significantly increased his role and presence with the club. His placement on Selig’s pace-of-game committee reflects the substantial study that the Red Sox, and Gordon personally, have made into the issue in the last year, as well as Gordon’s accelerating stature and influence within the sport.
“He’s like family to me,” Selig said of Gordon, who first worked in baseball as a teenager selling concessions at County Stadium when Selig owned the Milwaukee Brewers. “He’s got a terrific perspective, and he and Tom Werner have put an immense amount of effort already into the pace-of-game issue. I think Michael has a great future in baseball, and I do hope this is the beginning of him doing more things under Rob.”
Gordon’s professional background lies primarily in the financial sector. After growing up in Milwaukee and attending Tufts University, Gordon made a national name for himself in investment circles in the 1990s managing several of Fidelity’s large-scale mutual funds, including its Blue Chip Growth Fund. While at Fidelity, he met Jeffrey Vinik, now the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and also a Red Sox partner, and in 1996 the pair ventured on their own and founded Vinik Asset Management. Their success with that venture, at one point managing more than $9 billion in assets, allowed them to become part of Henry’s group that bought the Red Sox in 2002, in part at Selig’s behest.
“Mike Gordon is one of the best human beings you could possibly meet,” Vinik said. “He’s very smart, very thoughtful and really outstanding at solving problems and finding solutions to difficult issues. I think the world, of course, of John and Tom. But there’s no question Michael has been a very important component of what FSG has been able to do.”
For the first decade of FSG’s existence, Gordon remained very much a limited partner, not substantially involving himself in any of the individual club operations. But that changed in earnest when Vinik and Gordon shut down Vinik Asset Management early last year. That move freed up time for Gordon to become more active across the FSG portfolio, and he is now active in several key pieces beyond the Red Sox, including Liverpool Football Club. Gordon is also a director of Liverpool and is the key liaison between the English Premier League club and FSG ownership.
“He’s heavily involved in everything we do and has been a highly valuable sounding board and resource for all of us, certainly John, Tom and Larry, and the rest of us here,” said Sam Kennedy, Red Sox chief operating officer. “There’s no one here with us more passionate about the pace-of-game issue specifically than Mike and Tom. But Michael is intimately involved in all aspects of what we do, and works day to day with John and Tom.”
Gordon, along with Werner, led an internal club study on the baseball pace-of-play issue that in turn has formed a foundation for the MLB-level work. As the average length of MLB games has crept past three hours, despite a marked reduction in offense in recent years, the issue has become one of baseball’s hot-button issues. The committee last week announced a series of experimental measures, including a pitch clock and other time limits on inning breaks and pitching changes, that will be tested in the Arizona Fall League.
“I have very high hopes for this committee, and Michael is absolutely part of that,” Selig said. “They’ve got a lot of interesting ideas.”