Red Sox

Former Red Sox coach Tom Goodwin believes MLB bullied coaches into receiving COVID vaccine

Goodwin wasn't able to coach the Red Sox during the playoffs due to his vaccination status.

Former Red Sox first base coach Tom Goodwin eventually received the COVID-19 vaccine after he was forced to sit out out the postseason due to his vaccination status. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Former Red Sox first base coach Tom Goodwin, who wasn’t able to take part in the team’s 2021 postseason run due to his vaccination status, believes MLB bullied coaches into getting the COVID vaccine.

“I’ve never been an anti-vax guy. I didn’t feel it was right the way MLB was doing it,” Goodwin told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal in an interview published Friday. “I really felt — and it was just how I felt, maybe I was wrong, maybe I wasn’t — but that we were being bullied, the personnel who did not get vaccinated, by MLB. Because they could bully us. They could bully the coaches.”

“It brings up that there needs to be some sort of coaches’ union that will fight for us in a situation like this, where if a guy had strong beliefs about not being vaccinated, those should count for something. It shouldn’t just be OK, ‘Well, then you’re done,’” Goodwin added. “There was no choice. It was either you get vaccinated or you’re not going to be on the field. And I was like, there are going to be players on the field who are not vaccinated.”


While Goodwin eventually came around to getting the shot, he gave Rosenthal a couple of reasons why he was hesitant to get it before the Red Sox’ playoff run. His first was that he wasn’t comfortable with MLB waiting until Sept. 15 to announce its COVID protocols for the playoffs – which prohibited unvaccinated non-playing personnel from being on the field during games. Goodwin’s second reason was that he wanted to do more research on the vaccine.

A couple of weeks prior to the Sept. 15 announcement, Goodwin was forced to enter a 10-day quarantine in Canada due to being a close contact during the Red Sox’ COVID outbreak.

Goodwin was let go by the Red Sox at the season’s end, which chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom called a “baseball decision,” not a vaccination decision. But Goodwin told Rosenthal he felt that he needed to get vaccinated in order to coach again, receiving a dose in November and December.

The Braves hired Godwin to be their roving minor-league outfield instructor. Goodwin told Rosenthal that he didn’t receive an offer to coach for a major league team after spending the last 10 seasons as a first base coach with the Red Sox and the Mets.


In the same story, Brian Butterfield, who was the Red Sox’ third base coach and infield coach from 2013-17, revealed he is unvaccinated – which might have cost him an opportunity to join Buck Showalter on the Mets’ coaching staff. After coaching for 23 of the last 24 seasons, Butterfield shared with Rosenthal that he’s “content” with sitting out the 2022 season.

“It comes down to what I believe in,” Butterfield told Rosenthal on his reasoning to not get the vaccine. “The stuff that I’ve felt for years about our Food and Drug Administration, everything that goes on behind the vaccinations, I have real strong feelings about not wanting to put that into my body.”


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