The Red Sox organization suffered a great loss this week that transcends anything that occurs on the field. Pawtucket Red Sox president James Skeffington passed away at the age of 73 from a heart attack while he was out jogging Sunday night.
Skeffington was part of a 10-member group that had purchased the team in February. The PawSox are the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox but are independently owned. Skeffington and Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino were the most prominent faces of the group that paid over $20 million to purchase the team from the widow of longtime owner Ben Mondor.
"“Jim was an extremely loyal and charitable man who, in his all too brief time with the PawSox, relished his new role as club president,” the team said in a statement on Monday. “He enjoyed learning all he could about the PawSox operation and meeting fans, staff and players. Jim was committed to keeping the PawSox in Rhode Island and sharing his vision for a new ballpark.”"
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While the ownership group has pledged to keep the team in Rhode Island, Skeffington had been spearheading the negotiations with public officials to finance a new $85 million stadium that would move the team to the state’s capital in Providence. The tragic loss of the team’s president has put those talks on hold and cast uncertainty over the future of the team.
The team has yet to name a replacement for Skeffington’s position as president, but state officials have expressed skepticism that the remaining owners will keep the team in Rhode Island without the backing of Skeffington, who had strong ties to the area.
"“Obviously, with the tragic passing of Jim Skeffington, the dynamic has changed,” said speaker of the Rhode Island House, Nicholas Mattiello. “We’ll have to see if the owners of the team want to continue to keep the PawSox in Rhode Island the way Jim did.”"
For now, relocation and stadium plans are the furthest thing from the minds of those connected to the organization. Lucchino didn’t even mention it in his statement, choosing instead to focus on the loss of a man he considered a great friend.
"“Skeff was passionately devoted to his home state, a land he loved with all his heart,” said Lucchino in a statement. “He loved virtually every sport he encountered, especially baseball, and he seemed to attend every sporting event he could. He was deeply connected to the PawSox and to ensuring a bright future for the franchise in Rhode Island. We will miss his spirit, his optimism, and his joviality. We will miss his knowledge, his intellect, and his wisdom.”"
The Red Sox will miss a great man who played a tremendous role in the organization. It remains to be seen if the state of Rhode Island will end up missing the PawSox if they end up leaving.