Theo Epstein

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The Cubs’ Dealmaker and Cursebreaker

Having overturned the 86-year-old curse of the Bambino for the Boston Red Sox in 2004, Theo Epstein brought similar good fortune to the Chicago Cubs. This year, the Cubbies won the World Series and toppled the 108-year-long curse of the billy goat.

Anyone who knew Epstein’s family might have predicted he would be successful; few would have predicted it would be as a savvy baseball wheeler-dealer credited with redeeming legendary losing teams.

Epstein, 42, who is president of operations for the Cubs, comes from literary royalty: His father is the novelist Leslie Epstein; his grandfather and great-uncle were famous screenwriters who co-authored the film classic “Casablanca.”

Epstein made his first big mark in 2002, when the Red Sox hired him as general manager — at 26, the youngest in baseball history. The team had last won a World Series in 1918, but, under Epstein’s leadership and after a series of trades, the Sox won the 2004 and 2007 World Series.

In 2011, Epstein accepted an offer to oversee the Cubs — whose last World Series championship, in 1908, made the team even longer losers than the Red Sox. The Cubs finished last in their division the year before Epstein arrived, and for the following three years. But thanks to Epstein-engineered trades and acquisitions, the Cubs this year won more games during the regular season than any other team and snatched their division crown. In the World Series, the Cubs trailed the Cleveland Indians 3-1 before winning the last three games to claim the title. It was a historic event for America’s pastime and for Epstein in particular. As one fan put it: “Here’s a Jewish boy who looks more like a doctor or a lawyer who might turn out to be the greatest baseball executive of the last 50 years.”

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Theo Epstein

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