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Via e-mail, Epstein announces engagement

Sorry, ladies.

Theo Epstein, the boyish-looking Yale graduate who steered the Boston Red Sox to their first World Series championship in 86 years, is no longer a free agent, so to speak.

The general manager of the Red Sox and man-about-town staple of the city's gossip pages has sent an e-mail to friends announcing that he is engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Marie Whitney, according to friends who received the private missive.

There was evident buzz surrounding the happy couple last night as they arrived at the ballpark for the Sox matchup against their archrivals, the New York Yankees.

Red Sox staff and ballpark employees congratulated the pair as they headed to Epstein's box to watch the game. Along the way, Whitney proudly displayed her engagement ring to admirers.

Last night, Epstein's father, Leslie, director of Boston University's Creative Writing Program, declined to comment on the engagement news when reached by telephone at home. He thanked a reporter for calling in between innings, however.

The big ask apparently went down Sunday night, according to friends.

That night, the couple dined at Davio's, a popular Italian restaurant in Park Square, where Epstein had made a reservation under a pseudonym.

Sometime after the couple left, Epstein, 32, apparently asked Whitney, 27, to marry him.

Epstein resigned as general manager on Halloween, throwing Red Sox Nation into a tizzy. He agreed Jan. 19 to return to the team.

Whitney has been a longtime volunteer for Horizons for Homeless Children, a nonprofit organization in Boston whose mission is to help children learn how to play, share, read, and enjoy exploring their worlds.

A photo on the group's website shows the flaxen-haired Whitney smiling in between Theo Epstein and his brother, Paul, during a visit to the Schoen Family Community Children's Center in Dorchester in January.

The Epstein brothers, the website says, have helped set up a charity, called A Foundation to be Named Later, to benefit Horizons and seven other nonprofits that support programs for youth.

Female Sox fans were predictably devastated when told that Epstein was off the market.

``I wish it was me," said Karla Smith, 28 of Lawrence on her way into last night's game. ``He's very good-looking. He has a sweet smile, like a perfect smile."

``I think that's a shame, to be honest; I didn't even know he was taken," said Alycia Edelman, 21, of Newton, who called Epstein ``very attractive."

Sarah Dacey, 30, of Waltham was standing outside Fenway Park with her boyfriend, Greg Cartin, 32, but still bemoaned the upcoming nuptials.

``Noooooo," she said, before consoling herself.

``As long as Tom Brady's not engaged, there's still hope."

Carol Ann Beggy and Mark Shanahan of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Stephanie Peters contributed to this report.

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