‘Smartest Man in Baseball’ is a Yale alum and the new Chief Baseball Officer of the Red Sox
Craig Breslow, a Yale graduate, had an impressive academic and athletic career before landing in the front-office as Chief Baseball Officer.
The Boston Red Sox announced in October of 2023 that Craig Breslow ’02, Yale College alum, would be the new Chief Baseball Officer. Breslow graduated from Yale in 2002, having majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry while also playing varsity baseball for the Bulldogs. After graduating, he pitched for seven different teams in Major League Baseball, and now works in the Red Sox’s front office.
In 2009, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article calling Breslow “the smartest man in baseball, if not the entire world.” Indeed, his accomplishments both on and off the field speak for themselves.
Craig Breslow was born at Yale New Haven Hospital and grew up in Trumbull, CT, less than a 30-minute drive from Yale’s campus. Although Yale was close to home, Breslow said that proximity was not why he decided to become a Bulldog.
“Yale was always this elite institution that I would never be able to go to,” Breslow told the News. “But my academic achievement merited consideration from Ivy league schools and pretty early on [Yale] became the most aggressive recruiters. Ultimately when it came time to make the decision it felt like it was important to use baseball to pursue the best education I could.”
Breslow arrived at Yale in 1998 as a student-athlete with the intent of studying medicine and continuing his baseball career. From the age of 11, Breslow knew that he wanted to study medicine — his sister, 13 at the time, had been diagnosed with pediatric thyroid cancer. The experience had a lasting impact and motivated him to study molecular biophysics and biochemistry while at Yale, and ultimately to think about pursuing a professional career in medicine after graduation.
While an undergraduate at Yale, Breslow pitched for the Bulldogs on the men’s baseball team. He had an impressive four-year run, and notably as a senior, had the lowest ERA in the Ivy League with a 2.56 Earned Run Average, or ERA.
Still interested in pursuing a career in medicine, Breslow applied to medical school and was accepted into New York University Medical School and planned to attend after graduation. His medical school plans were interrupted, though, by his dream of becoming a professional baseball player.
Breslow told the News he consulted with teammates and family members about his decision to continue playing baseball after Yale or pursue a career in medicine. Matt McCarthy ’02, a teammate at Yale, gave him lasting advice.
“I remember asking him, ‘How did you know you were done?’ and he said it was really easy,” Breslow recounted. “‘I could turn on a TV and be like, yeah, that was fun when I played, but if you ever turn on a TV and think that could be you out there, then you are not ready to give it up.’ And that really really hit me. I just felt like I could still contribute.”
Breslow made his decision. He headed to Milwaukee.
In 2002, Breslow was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers and began his career in MLB. He would go on to pitch for 12 seasons with the San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Guardians, Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks and Miami Marlins. At one point while pitching in MLB, Breslow was the only Yale alum playing major-league baseball.
While pursuing his career as a professional athlete, Breslow started the Strike 3 Foundation in 2008 with the mission of raising money and awareness for pediatric cancer research and treatment, while also staying involved in the medical world, even though he decided to no longer pursue medicine as a career.
“I had always thought my impact on the medical community would be as a physician,” Breslow told the News. “But as my baseball career took hold and I realized that pursuing medical school and a career in the medical profession was getting pushed further out, I wanted to remain connected in some way.”
The Strike 3 Foundation’s primary fundraiser is a wiffle ball tournament at Little Fenway in Vermont, which they host each fall. Little Fenway is made up of replica Fenway, Wrigley and Field of Dreams wiffle ball stadiums.
In 2008, the Strike 3 Foundation also pledged to give $500,000 over the span of five years to Yale New Haven Hospital, which, according to the website, was used to found a Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplantation Program, the first of its kind in Connecticut.
In 2009, in a Wall Street Journal article titled “Who Has the Brainiest Team in Baseball?” the WSJ called Breslow the “smartest man in baseball, if not the entire world.” The article tried to understand if there was a correlation between education and victories by looking at players who went to four-year U.S. colleges or universities and seeing which of them graduated. Players who attended elite schools were ranked more heavily.
“In a field like professional sports where Ivy League grads are not commonplace, there is this stigma for better or for worse that attaches itself to you. Athletes get all kinds of nicknames and if ‘smartest man in baseball’ was the one that people wanted to come up for me, I could do far, far worse,” Breslow said. “I try to embrace it with all appropriate humility.”
After his playing career as a pitcher, Breslow shifted to the front office where he now works as the Chief Baseball Officer at the Red Sox. Chief Baseball Officer puts him in the position to direct all of Red Sox baseball operations. Breslow takes over for another Yale graduate, Chaim Bloom ’04, who held the position before him.
Breslow is familiar with the Red Sox organization, as he pitched for the Red Sox for four years in 2006 and again from 2012-15. He helped the team win the World Series in 2013.
Craig Breslow has had a very successful career with Major League Baseball on and off the field, giving some of the credit to his time at Yale.
“The network, community, and relationships I built at Yale, like Theo and others, as well as the diversity, world view and perspective you get at a place like Yale, drove me to be eminently curious and introspective,” Breslow said, speaking of former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein ’95, when asked how his Yale experience has helped his work in the Red Sox front office.
The Red Sox will begin Spring Training this year in February at their spring training camp in Fort Myers, Florida. Opening Day will be held on April 9, 2024 against the Baltimore Orioles at home in Boston at Fenway Park.
Correction, Feb. 6: A previous version of this article called molecular biophysics and biochemistry a double major; it is one course of study commonly referred to as MB&B.