Woodling: James packing his bags

Attention Mr. and Mrs. Beantown and all other rabid Boston Red Sox fans: Bill James will be moving to the Hub City.

Yes, the man who has been the Red Sox’ senior baseball operations advisor since 2002 will leave Lawrence around Labor Day and move to Boston.

Do not conclude, however, that James is moving to Boston because the Red Sox have pushed the panic button and want James close at hand to pick his brain on personnel decisions.

This is as much about Susan McCarthy as it is about Bill James.

McCarthy is James’ wife and the mother of their three children. She is also an artist whose illustrations appeared in a couple of the baseball books James published in the late 1980s and early ’90s that cemented his reputation as the guru of baseball new-think.

“I’ve lived the life of a struggling artist for 20 years,” McCarthy told me, “and after awhile it gets discouraging.”

Consequently, McCarthy will seek a masters degree in art history from Boston University with an eye on becoming a teacher.

Except for a short period when they dwelled in Winchester, a small burg located 30 or so miles north of here, James and McCarthy have lived in Lawrence for three decades and raised three children. Two will be in college next year, and the youngest, Reuben, is junior-high age.

“I applied to KU and planned to go there,” McCarthy said, “but we both thought it was time to change our lives a little bit. With Bill having ties to the Red Sox and Reuben being a big Red Sox fan, we decided to experience life in the big city.”

This is a temporary deal. James and McCarthy plan to keep their home in Old West Lawrence and return after the two years it is expected McCarthy will need to acquire her advanced degree. They’ll reside in a suburb close to both Boston U. and Fenway Park.

While his wife is attending classes and studying, James will maintain his Red Sox duties and continue with his writing, research, etc. Asked if he is working on a new project, James replied: “I am, but I don’t like to talk about what I’m GOING to do.”

At the age of 56, James has come a long way from those days in the 1970s when he first dispensed such radical – at the time – baseball theories as “range factor” and “runs created” that have since become standard operating procedure for many major-league organizations.

Those of you who have followed James know that baseball is his obsession, but that Kansas University men’s basketball is his passion. Thus moving to Boston means he and his wife will have to surrender their Allen Fieldhouse season tickets.

“Yeah, I’m afraid so,” he said. “Our tickets weren’t that good anyway. We’ll try to get back in the system when we get back to Kansas.”

I’m no sociologist, but I’m sure what James and McCarthy are doing is not common for a married couple in their mid-50s, particularly if that twosome never has lived in the suburbs of a megalopolis before.

“It will be a huge change for us,” McCarthy affirmed, “a drastic change.”