FORT MYERS, Fla.–Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner made his hay as a producer of hit 1980s sitcoms such as The Cosby Show and Roseanne. Andrew Koenig is a former child actor who played the popular Richard Stabone (aka ‘Boner’) from 1985-1989 on the sitcom Growing Pains.
Now Boner’s gone missing, and Fenway Pastoral recently talked to Werner about it in Fort Myers.
Q. You belong to a powerful group of current and former television executives and entertainment bigwigs. A child actor from the ‘80s is missing. What do you know?
Werner: I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season. People seem pretty worried about our offense and the loss of Jason Bay, but I think we’ll be just fine. I honestly think we’ll be contenders for the World Series as the leaves are turning all kinds of pretty colors in New England this fall. We are going to be hard to beat.
Q. How would you respond to all those people out there who are saying The Cosby Show was inferior to Growing Pains? Are they being overly emotional because they may never see Boner again?
Werner: I think those types of discussions are premature. John (Henry), Larry (Lucchino) and myself all plan to be here for a long, long time. Fenway Park will continue to undergo subtle renovations that will improve the fan experience on game day without compromising the integrity and history of one of Boston’s most cherished landmarks.
Q. Was the guy who played Boner ever considered for a guest star appearance on Cosby Show—maybe as one of Vanessa’s love interests? It seemed like she was a bit of a floozy.
Werner: That is a big point of contention with this ownership group. We don’t believe in bridges or “rebuilding years.” We believe in fielding a contender every season—teams that fans can get excited about each spring and will continue to follow throughout the summer.
Q. What about Roseanne? Boner was a bit of a wiseguy type that would have fit in well with the characters on that show. He could have been a nice foil to John Goodman’s role as the fat dad.
Werner: Well, that’s debatable. There are other defensive metrics out there besides UZR and I think Jacoby Ellsbury is a fine defender, no matter which position in the outfield he plays.
Q. Has reality television effectively killed the sitcom format that was so prevalent on network TV during the 1980s?
Werner: There is no right or wrong answer to that question. I think the evolution of statistical analysis over the last 20 years is an important development in how we evaluate talent. As the game changes, we also need to change in how we analyze players. Our organization supplements the hard work of scouts with useful pitch and zone data and other sabermetrics.
Q. Alright, let’s wrap this up. Are you concerned at all about the long-term legacy of the Cosby Show? Scholars have devoted most of their time debating the relative impact the show may have had on African-American culture rather than focusing on the simple brilliance of plot lines like Theo Huxtable allowing his friend Cockroach to pierce his ear.
Werner: I’m not worried. I expect big things out of Big Papi this year. None of his problems last year are anything that can’t be solved by regaining the plate discipline he showed a few years ago.