Born: August 4, 1962
Town: Monmouth Beach
John Edward Farrell was born August 4, 1962 in Monmouth Beach. His father, Tom, was a left-handed pitcher from Long Branch who played three seasons of pro ball in the Indians system from 1953 to 1955. John threw right-handed and was a youth league star before enjoying a standout prep career at Shore Regional High School. The Oakland A’s drafted John in the 9th round, but he elected to take a baseball scholarship from Oklahoma State.
John pitched for years for Gary Ward’s Cowboys, helping them win four consecutive Big 12 titles and conference tournament championships, and earning a spot in the 1981 NCAA Finals as a freshman. John went 20–6 in his college career, including a 12–2 mark as a senior. That season, he set a school record with 5 shutouts and no-hit Missouri Southern. Among his college teammates were Pete Incaviglia, Robbie Wine, and Gary Green.
John was selected in the second round of the 1984 draft by the Cleveland Indians. He had a live fastball along with a slider and change-up, pitching to contact. That repertoire got him to the majors in the summer of 1987, where he went 5–1 in nine starts. The following season, he continued his fine work, going 14–10 in a rotation led by 18-game winner Greg Swindell. The two young hurlers gave Cleveland fans a little hope in a season that saw the Tribe win just 46 games in which they were not involved in the decision.
John pitched better in 1989 but ended up with a disappointing 9–14 record. A sore elbow cut short his 1990 season and he missed the next two years. In 1992, John signed a free agent deal with the California Angels. He was no longer the same pitcher, however, and yo-yo’d between the majors and minors with the Angels, Indians and Tigers before calling it quits in 1996.
John found the idea of coaching and managing appealing. He landed a job as a coach and recruiting coordinator with Oklahoma State, working under Tom Holliday, who had been an assistant when he pitched for the school. In 2002, John took a job as Director of Player Development for the Indians. He had an immediate impact on the farm system, which was rated among the league’s best. In 2006, his old Indians teammate, Terry Francona, hired him as his pitching coach for the Red Sox.
John landed his first managing job in 2011, with the Toronto Blue Jays. In two seasons, he went 154–170. John returned to the Red Sox in 2013 as their manager, taking over a club that had finished last in the AL East. Under John’s guidance, the team improved by a whopping 28 victories to win the division with a 97–65 record. David Ortiz paced a balanced hitting attack, while Jon Lester led a veteran pitching staff. The Red Sox beat the Rays in the Division Series and Tigers in the ALCS to win the pennant. Boston continued to roll in the World Series against the Cardinals. Ortiz and Lester stepped up in the clutch in a 4 games to 2 victory.
During the 2015 season, John was diagnosed with lymphoma. He left the team to undergo treatment and his cancer went into remission. Despite having skippered the Red Sox through losing seasons in 2014 and 2015, John returned to manage the club in 2016. Boston rebounded to win the AL East, and were favored by many to win another pennant. However, they ran into the red-hot Indians in the Division Series and John was swept out of the playoffs by Francona’s team.