The Owner Takes a Wife
Buttoned-down Red Sox owner John Henry revealed a very different side of himself during his topsy-turvy courtship of Linda Pizzuti. (We’ve got the soul-baring e-mails and love-struck vacation photos to prove it!)
After earning her master’s at age 26, Pizzuti—determined to avoid the procession into marriage, suburbia, and children—broke up with her then-fiancé and moved to the North End. Living alone and loving it, she was up early every morning to hit the gym or a dance studio for salsa lessons; after long workdays she juggled a full calendar of charity and social commitments. Trying to keep track of her could be exhausting.
In Prague, partway through her trip to Europe, Pizzuti found herself thinking about Henry. He had followed up after her e-mail with, “Just struck me—the similarities to Cyrano. Except the young Adonis is a BlackBerry”; she joked back that thankfully he didn’t have Cyrano’s legendarily big nose. She liked the highbrow banter, and she liked Henry’s willingness to bare his soul. By the time she landed in Boston, she had convinced herself it would be okay to be friends.
But nothing more: When Henry suggested they go on a date, she wrote back, “It would be a fantastically bad idea to go out with you. It would lead to trouble and gossip in a small town.” Turning to self-deprecation, he responded with a list of additional reasons she should refuse, including “My expiration date was about 10 years ago.” Won over, Pizzuti agreed to meet him the following week at the Golden Goose market in the North End, where they would buy supplies for a cooking lesson on his yacht.
Three days before their “friend date,” as Pizzuti dubbed it, Henry met Kane at the 1369 Coffee House in Central Square. (Henry, who’d only recently started drinking coffee, had become an effusive fan of the place—even flying one of its managers to his house in Boca Raton to train his staff on brewing techniques.) Afterward, Henry drove to the North End for dinner with Werner and his daughter, Amanda. He got lost and called Pizzuti for directions. She guided him in, but he was so late that the Werners had left. So he called again: “I’m across the street at Florentine. Come down!” Pizzuti refused, telling him she’d see him in three days as they’d planned, yet 45 minutes later she appeared at the restaurant. They strolled the neighborhood for hours, and at one point Henry tried to take her hand. She had to explain to him that it was too intimate for friends.
When Henry and Pizzuti met the cooking instructor at the Golden Goose, she realized it had been years since Henry had been to a grocery store, and probably decades since he’d cooked. But he seemed thrilled to go along with whatever she wanted to do. On the boat, Henry presented her with custom aprons: for her, “Ms. Pizzazz” (his nickname for her), and for himself, “Fantastically Bad Idea.”
The next night, July 10, they attended Sox pitcher Josh Beckett’s Beckett Bowl fundraiser, making a concerted effort not to be seen together. They followed up with a walk around the Bunker Hill Monument—this time, they held hands—and a late dinner at the Franklin Café, where a waiter told Henry’s manager (Pizzuti was still insisting on a chaperone) that the couple looked madly in love.
A week later, Werner convinced Pizzuti to travel to L.A. to rendezvous with the Circus, who would all be in town while the Sox played the Angels. Werner’s house there sits on a golf course with views of the rolling fairways, which inspired Henry to buy a tent and—mindful of the rules of this evolving “friends that hold hands” relationship—eight sleeping bags for a backyard campout. “John thought it would be romantic,” Werner says. “I told him that was all well and good, but I preferred to sleep in my bed. I offered to make them breakfast in the house the next morning.”
That night, in what Pizzuti regards as quintessential Henry, he had a debate with himself, out loud, about whether he was in love. He concluded that the answer was probably no. She thought, Okay, great, thanks, did I ask if you were? But the next evening, after screening Mamma Mia! at the home of a producer friend of Werner’s, Henry changed his mind. “I must be in love,” he announced, “because there’s no way I would have sat through that movie if Ms. Pizzazz hadn’t been next to me!”
For her part, Pizzuti was learning to take his directness in stride. “If he’s thinking something, he shares it,” she says. “I thought he was a bit nuts. Mostly I just laughed at his declarations.”