Epstein's assistants are young, educated, intrepid -- and the foundation of the Red Sox organization
One majored in history at Wesleyan University. One studied psychology at Harvard. One pursued American studies at Colby College. One elected Russian studies and political science, also at Colby.
One managed two hits off future Anaheim Angel Jarrod Washburn as a sophomore at Wesleyan. One had a .301 career average for the Crimson. One began at Colby as an "OK field, no hit" infielder, took up pitching, and won nine games. One tried out for the varsity at Weymouth South High as a junior and was told "I'd made the team, but that I was never going to play."
One grew up in Plymouth, N.H., one in Swampscott, one in Walpole, N.H., the other in Weymouth, all fans of the Boston Red Sox.
Today, they constitute much of the organization's underpinning, literally and figuratively. Literally, they are based underground, below the Fenway Park box office at the corner of Brookline Avenue and Yawkey Way. Figuratively, they get the necessary and complex work -- contracts, arbitration casework, player recruitment, advance scouting, and more -- done.
They're an intrepid group, all between ages 28 and 33. Two are married. None has kids, though one has a child on the way. They are among Theo Epstein's most valued employees, all situated just feet outside the general manager's office at desks, cubicles, or small work stations.
"Officles," Epstein prefers.
They work until 7 most nights, sometimes until 2 a.m., sometimes all night. They are representative of the zeitgeist that now pervades Major League Baseball: young, analytical, and armed with broad skill sets. They favor black sweaters over shirts and ties, pickup football and basketball over more passive pastimes.
Meet Jed Hoyer, Peter Woodfork, Galen Carr, and Brian O'Halloran. Each played a vital, if muted, role in putting the Sox in position to win the World Series, though they'd have you believe otherwise. The four of them and Epstein downplay their roles and emphasize that the entire front office and the players deserve the credit.
If Dave Roberts gets thrown out at second, O'Halloran pointed out, the four of them are nobodies.
"I think we're nobodies anyway," Woodfork said.
The reality, though, is that they have Epstein's ear on day-to-day, major league matters. And, along with assistant GM Josh Byrnes, director of player development Ben Cherington, and director of minor league administration Raquel Ferreira, they form Epstein's immediate circle of trust.
Title: Assistant to the general manager
Hoyer's two hits off Washburn -- "One was a ground ball hit, one was legitimate," -- didn't get the Plymouth, N.H., native anywhere near the big leagues. Upon graduation, Hoyer, now 31, went to work in the admissions offices at Kenyon College in Ohio, then Wesleyan.
His most rewarding day with the Red Sox involved a similar task -- selling someone on the merits and educational capabilities of his organization.
When Curt Schilling invited Epstein to Arizona in November 2003, Schilling was seeking answers. How would he fare as a fly-ball pitcher in Fenway Park? How modern was the advance scouting? Would his family enjoy living in Boston?
Sox senior adviser Bill James wrote a statistical analysis of Fenway's effect on fly-ball pitchers. Hoyer and Carr, in an effort to showcase the club's advance scouting, burned onto DVDs video of Roger Clemens's starts vs. American League teams. Schilling felt Clemens was the pitcher most similar to his style.
Hoyer ensured that all of this data was packaged in a presentable format. Epstein then enlisted Hoyer, along with club president Larry Lucchino, to travel to Arizona to sell Schilling on the Sox.
"We probably spent three or four hours the first day walking through the things he was concerned about," Hoyer said. "We had some PowerPoint stuff, some video stuff, some letters [from James]. I really felt that after that session it was a question of negotiating."
That trip underscored Hoyer's importance to Epstein and growth within the organization. Hired as an intern the day the ownership assumed control of the Red Sox in 2002, Hoyer has become Epstein's prime confidant outside of Byrnes.
"An idea will pop out of Theo's mouth, and Jed will be right there to serve as a checkpoint," Carr said. "He'll say, `Did you think of this? Did you think of that?' "
Title: Director of baseball operations, assistant director of player development
Woodfork played a handful of games at Fenway in high school and college, but never could muscle one off the Monster.
"Dude," he said, "I'm 5-9."
Nonetheless, he was the Globe's Male Athlete of the Year in baseball in 1995.
"He's like a Little League legend," Epstein said. "I run into people all the time who say, `He was the best Little League player I've ever seen.' "
Following stints at a law firm and CBS Sports as a stat guy, Woodfork landed in Major League Baseball's labor relations department. He worked on the collective bargaining agreement of 2002, researched arbitration cases, and served as a liaison between the league and teams on salary and contract issues.
"Whenever we had questions, Peter was one of the guys we would call," Epstein said.
The Red Sox called to offer him a job in March 2003. Despite being just 28, he enjoys a dual role that leaves his fingerprints on much of the organization.
Recently, he worked at length assembling lists of players comparable to Bronson Arroyo and Mark Bellhorn in preparation for arbitration. He lends a hand in contract work and negotiations. Somehow, he's never taken a graduate-level law class.
Asked if he might have to, he knocked on the wood table in front of him at Boston Beer Works and said, "Probably not. I have great resources in the office."
And, great resources at home. He shares an apartment next to Fenway with Hoyer and another Sox employee.
Woodfork, much like the others, majored in something unrelated to his current line of work.
"It helps, more than I ever thought it would," he said of his psychology degree. "It's all stats related. It's also a person degree. You understand people a little better."
Many acquaintances once wondered why Woodfork would waste his time at Harvard studying psychology, and his parents are now asking a similar question about his career.
"I have parents who are social workers," he said. "They were more like, `What are you doing going into the business world?' "
Title: Advance scouting director
When Jason Varitek crouches behind home plate and the pitcher stares in for the sign, Carr knows which pitch he'd like Varitek to call. It's Carr's job, before each series, to furnish the Sox with every piece of data available on the opposing team.
While advance scout Dave Jauss spends almost every day on the road gathering reports on upcoming opponents, Carr sets up shop in Boston in the conference room near Epstein's office.
The room features a 60-inch TV wired to about 15 DVD players. Carr records every game on DirecTV's MLB Extra Innings package, about 75 percent of the league's games.
The team utilizes a program called B.A.T.S. -- Baseball Analysis and Tracking System -- to log data that can be derived from each pitch in a game. The team pays a company to log most data, and Carr watches tapes on future opponents, inputting some data and video himself.
The goal: supply manager Terry Francona with specific, credible information.
"If you want to see what Pedro's pitch percentages are on 2-and-2 counts vs. lefties in the seventh inning over the course of the last four months, [we'd have] stuff like that," Carr said.
The day before the team opens a series, Carr delivers a black three-ring binder of about 80 pages to the coaching staff, Varitek, Doug Mirabelli, and Schilling.
"Catchers it's by necessity," Carr said. "Schilling it's by choice."
The binder "contains a full-page report on every active player on the [opponent's] 25-man roster, maybe one or two extras," Carr said. "We'll have a number of charts, tables, spreadsheets full of data, mostly basic objective data pulled straight from the last month or two of games."
Much like his co-workers, Carr doesn't view his American Studies degree from Colby as a wasted pursuit.
"Writing skills," he said. "We're dealing with so much information, to make it as clear and concise, concise, especially, is the key."
Title: Coordinator of Major League administration
The setting was Moscow, circa 1999. O'Halloran, who at the time worked for an international logistics company, had gathered with a few American friends. Having worked in Russia since 1996, he'd arrived at a conclusion: "I don't want to live overseas for the rest of my life or work in business proper."
He recalls the conversation unfolding much like the vintage "Seinfeld" scene.
"I always say it was like that `Seinfeld' where George had quit his job," O'Halloran said. "He's sitting there, and Jerry says, `What would you like to be?'
" `General manager of a baseball team.' "
Of course, George Costanza was not qualified to be a general manager. O'Halloran, too, had no real baseball experience.
As a player, "I peaked at age 11," he said.
Academically, though, his abilities were almost limitless. In the fall of his junior year at Colby, O'Halloran left to study in the Soviet Republic of Georgia.
"When I left, it was the former Soviet Republic of Georgia," he said.
He witnessed a civil war and tanks in the streets. He lived with a Georgian family, went to school with Georgians, and had no choice but to speak the language. A government coup coincided with his trip home to Weymouth for Christmas, 1991. O'Halloran had to override his parents' and the US State Department's wishes to return to the Soviet Union.
"I believe, I can't say with 100 percent certainty, but I believe there was a time when I was the only American in Georgia," he said.
Following graduation, O'Halloran returned to eastern Europe on a one-year fellowship to study ethnic conflict. He stayed, going to work in Moscow, where he learned his third language.
Then came the Seinfeld moment. O'Halloran, bound for a life of work and wealth, gave up the trappings of power for proximity. He began business school at UCLA, where a fellow student who now works for the Rockies recommended O'Halloran look up a young Padres employee named Theo Epstein.
Epstein's recollections? "I can't remember much, except he was willing to work for very little."
O'Halloran accepted an unpaid internship with the Padres in January 2002. Upon completion, he moved to Boston with his fiancee. Again, he asked Epstein, now with the Red Sox, for a role.
"I told him we weren't supposed to have another employee," Epstein said. "He wasn't allowed to come until after midnight."
Said O'Halloran: "A lot of times I'd come at the end of the game, 11, 11:30 p.m., and I'd stay until 4, 5 in the morning up in the offices, charting games whenever there was a workstation available."
To pay the bills, he worked as a substitute teacher in Weymouth. Epstein was hired as GM in November 2002.
"Shortly thereafter," O'Halloran said, "he told me, `We'll finally be able to pay you.' "
In his current capacity, O'Halloran deals with the commissioner's office and scours the waiver wire daily. Usually, he takes Epstein's contract thoughts and puts them to paper.
"He'll come out of the negotiation with either notes or something verbal in his mind," O'Halloran said. "Someone has to put that into a document -- called a term sheet -- and get the agent to sign off on it. Usually, that falls to me."
O'Halloran even attended scout school in 2004.
"He has a broad skill set, treats people very well, has good baseball instincts, is a very hard worker and intelligent," Epstein said.
That is the common thread among these four people. Each is a resource. When the time comes to make decisions, each has a say.
"We encourage debates about players and standing by one's opinion," Epstein said. "We don't want yes men."
The office layout promotes such debate. Each sits within earshot of the others in an open room. Despite the cramped quarters, a climate of altruism appears to have settled within the office.
"Everyone's friends," Hoyer said. "Everyone hangs out on the weekend. We're here until midnight all the time. We're eating dinner together all the time.
"I always think in some ways that might seem weird. But we're all really good friends, and this job is all-encompassing."