James Skeffington, a Rhode Island attorney who orchestrated the purchase of the Pawtucket Red Sox this past February, died Sunday night of a heart attack. He was 73.
"The PawSox family is deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of Pawtucket Red Sox President Jim Skeffington last night," said the team in a statement. "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. He enjoyed learning all he could about the PawSox operation and meeting fans, staff, and players."
Skeffington, along with Boston Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, was the principal owner of the storied International League franchise. The 10-member ownership group bought the team from Madeline Mondor, the widow of long-time PawSox owner Ben Mondor, with the intent of moving the team to a new waterfront ballpark in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. The Paw Sox's current home of McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket opened in 1942.
"All of us with the Boston Red Sox and the Pawtucket Red Sox have suffered an enormous loss, both personally and professionally," said Lucchino in a Boston Red Sox team statement. "On a personal level, I will miss a good and decent man who for many years has been a dear friend to me. I could always rely on his candor, camaraderie, and compassion. He may have been the most generous person I have ever known; there was never a check he wouldn't grab; there was never a worthy charitable cause he would not support."
Skeffington was a significant force in Rhode Island business and politics. As reported by the Providence Journal, he was involved with financing bills that helped create the Rhode Island Convention Center and Providence Place Mall.
Skeffington's purchase of the Paw Sox marked one of his most ambitious projects yet. Artist renderings of the proposed new ballpark, which would be built at an estimated cost of $85 million, were released last month. The specific funding mechanisms for both land acquisition and construction have yet to be determined.
"Jim was committed to keeping the PawSox in Rhode Island and sharing his vision for a new ballpark," said the team. "He was a true Rhode Islander who was devoted to his family and the entire community at large."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.