Red Sox Nation to elect president
Franchise's official fan club to let fan have special perks
BOSTON -- When the founding fathers drafted Article II of the United States Constitution, they had to weigh the practical need for a strong executive branch against the new nation's distrust of monarchy.
Faced with similar concerns 220 years later, Red Sox Nation has decided to take a necessary next step. It will elect its first president.
According to the club, the Nation's "First Fan" will have "powers, privileges and perks."
Among the benefits are Red Sox tickets, use of a Fenway Park suite and a trip to Spring Training. They will also deliver a ceremonial first pitch on a 2008 home date and have a blog provided by the team.
It is unclear whether the Nation will set term limits, or power to grant reprieves and pardons.
Finally, Red Sox ownership and senior executives plan to meet "periodically" with the elected president.
"While this innovation is light-hearted, it is nonetheless real," says team president/CEO Larry Lucchino. "It is intended to be both a fun and functional position that helps foster dialogue among fans, and one that keeps us in touch with the pulse of our fans."
Lucchino will not vie for power against the newly elected president. He will continue to fill out his duties in the daily ministrations of the team. Nor will fans running for office have the power to replace general manager Theo Epstein with him or herself, or appoint a vice president such as Manny Ramirez.
Serving Red Sox Nation is nevertheless a real duty. Remembering King George III in 1787, the founding fathers were suspicious about vesting powers in a single representative of government.
Only because they trusted George Washington to execute those powers in good faith did they lay to rest their disagreements.
This time, NESN television analyst Jerry Remy is serving as "temporary, acting president."
The Red Sox will open nominations to anyone. There is no limit to the number of people who can be nominated. All fans worldwide will be able to vote online at www.redsox.com for free. The program will be conducted in coordination with NESN, Entercom Radio, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), which runs MLB.com.
Unlike the United States presidency, the president of Red Sox Nation does not necessarily need to be a natural-born citizen of Red Sox Nation, or of the age of 35 years.
Personalities like radio voice Joe Castiglione, NESN SportsDesk anchor Hazel Mae and former Red Sox player Sam Horn have accepted nominations by fans. Longtime Boston-oriented media members like Mike Barnicle, Peter Gammons and Bill Simmons, ESPN.com's "Sports Guy," have also reportedly received nominations.
Also joining the race: Boston business leaders Dennis Drinkwater of Giant Glass and Cindy Brown of Boston Duck Tours, and Harvard-educated historian and Red Sox fan Doris Kearns Goodwin, who chronicled her youth as a Brooklyn Dodgers backer in "Wait 'Till Next Year."
Many self-professed "average fans" like Rick "The Fan's Commissioner" Swanson, a vocal fan on various Web sites, have announced their candidacy.
"Others are tossing their hats into the ring," Lucchino says. "They all share a love of the Red Sox, yet they range from celebrities to media members to business leaders to our heart and soul, the regular fans."
Fans can nominate themselves or anyone else by becoming a Citizen of Red Sox Nation, Boston's online fan community, for a fee of $14.95. Visit www.redsoxnation.com for more information.
Nominees will be able to write "platform statements," and some will be able to tell their stories in interviews on NESN.
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.