10 Things You Didn’t Know about John W. Henry

John W Henry

Many know John W. Henry as a figurehead of the Boston, MA elite, and owner of the legendary baseball the Boston Red Sox. The team has a soft-spot in many of the hearts of Americans, especially those on the east coast. The story of their recent wins and their history of losses won’t be covered here, but just as everyone loves to root for the Sox, their owner, John W. Henry can also be considered an underdog – one that the American eye watches. After all, everyone loves any example someone can make out of the “American Dream”. And while his story isn’t exactly rags-to-riches, many will appreciate his path in life with these little known facts of one of the most successful men in America.

He has been married three times

Henry and his current wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry, enjoyed their wedding reception on Henry’s 164-foot yacht, Iroquois. After saying “I do” while sailing through the open Atlantic, the couple and guests attended a private reception held in Fenway Park. Linda, a Boston local, born and raised, is a 36-year-old beauty with brains; she gained her Master’s from MIT at Cambridge. The couple has been going strong since 2009 and have one daughter, Sienna, together. (Photos of the wedding here.)

He was born on a soy-bean farm

Forbes cites Henry’s source of wealth as “self-made,” and it couldn’t be more accurate. Growing up in both the green plains of Illinois and the brush land of Arkansas before relocating to California in his teens. Growing, he always had a knack for numbers and a love for baseball, but despite this his future in sports investment wasn’t fully realized until the 1970’s, after his father’s death. Suddenly in charge of the farm and its sales, and began to self-teach himself hedging and trading tactics. By the early ’80’s, Henry began the John W. Henry & Co, a financial trading firm where he could bring his knowledge and expertise to paying clients.

Henry has reported that in his youth he was kicked out of a casino for counting cards

John spent his childhood living on farms in the rural mid-west. During the 1950’s, baseball was King and young John spent a lot of his time crunching the batting averages of players he would hear about on the radio. His strong mathematical abilities only grew as he aged and during his college career at UCLA (he also attended classes at the two other University of California’s campuses), he and a UCLA instructor published a paper on how to successfully count cards in which Henry claimed to have been politely removed from a black jack table in Vegas.

He’s suffered major financial blows

In 2012, John W. Henry & Co. had to inform all of their clients of their closing, owning hundreds of people hundreds of dollars. The decline in the company began 2007, going from managing $2.6 billion to $100 million. Investors in John W. Henry & Company’s trading programs reported a jump from only 2% loss to 32% loss in 2012. The closing of his venture was a heavy blow mainly to Henry’s confidence and sense of success; he described the failure as “very painful”.

He’s an international sports-team mogul

Thomas C. Werner and John W. Henry founded the Fenway Sports Group (FSG), an investment company that now owns or partially owns a majority of shares in more than seven sports-related companies and teams. Of these, Liverpool Football Club is included. An addition to FSG in 2010, news sources, particularly of the United Kingdom, report dissatisfaction with their new owner and chairman. This sour-note is most likely related to the fact that since FSG’s take of Liverpool, the team has witnessed little success, compared to their history. Their current league ranking is in the 11th position.

He’s a rock-star. No, really.

In the 1960’s, Henry toured with bands, Hillary and Elysian Fields, playing guitar. Elysian Fields was a progressive rock band, even for its psychedelic era, with members of the band shaving their eyebrows to sell their band’s schtick – a theatrical rock opera spinning a tale of aliens from outer-space. Far out, man.

He isn’t just a sports team mogul.

The billionaire also owns the Boston Globe. In fact, he is only the third owner in the history of the New England based newspaper. He even periodically writes for the Globe. In his article “Why I bought the Globe” Henry writes candidly and passionately about the newspaper, stating: “I invested in the Globe because I believe deeply in the future of this great community.”

Henry and his wife are philanthropists

Through the John W. Henry Foundation, John and Linda (along with three other owners), focus on improving: healthcare, education systems, arts and cultural communities, and sustainable food options. The organization’s physical address is in Florida, but they routinely help communities in Massachusetts as well, by offering grants and scholarships to deserving causes. Learn more about the Foundation, its mission, and projects here.

Henry created his own news publication, called STAT

Henry gained experience and interest in life sciences when he acted as a board member of Massachusetts General Hospital. His love and personal investments (not just of the money-material), for Boston led to his purchasing of the Boston Globe and rather simultaneously the idea for STAT, digital, credible resource for news of the life sciences around the world. Henry believes that in the current and near futures, “the most important stories” will be derived from advances in medical research and healthcare (Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top.


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