Tom Barrett (Trading Card DB)

Tommy Barrett

This article was written by Bill Nowlin

Tom Barrett (Trading Card DB)Tommy Barrett hit for some very good averages and stole a lot of bases in the minor leagues. Originally a New York Yankees farmhand, he broke into major league baseball with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1988, making 36 of his 54 big league appearances. He got into 14 more games for the Phillies in 1989 and a final four with the Boston Red Sox in 1992. By virtue of his brief time with Boston, he and brother Marty Barrett became one of 10 sets of siblings who played for the Red Sox.1 Tommy played second base in 21 games, pinch-hit in 29, and pinch-ran in four others.

By the time Barrett reached the top level, though, he was already 28 years old. His defensive statistics were more or less league average, both in the minor leagues and the majors. Though he always hustled and was good at getting on base, he lacked power. Also, established second basemen were ahead of him: Willie Randolph in New York, Juan Samuel and then Tom Herr in Philadelphia, and later Jody Reed in Boston.

Thomas Loren Barrett was born on April 2, 1960, in San Fernando, California, He had two older brothers who played professional baseball: Charlie, a righty pitcher, and Marty, who played second base from 1982 through 1991 in the majors, mostly with Boston.

Those three boys, plus four other children, were raised by Randy and Charlotte (Wilbur) Barrett. Randy Barrett was a firefighter who moved the family to Las Vegas. “Our father was our hero,” said Tommy in a September 2022 interview. “He was our Pop Warner Football coach. He coached some of our baseball teams. He took a job with the Las Vegas Review-Journal as a district manager in North Las Vegas so that he could have all the papers delivered to the paperboys and always be free for all of our after-school sporting events. He was just making enough to make ends meet for a family with seven kids.2

“I was the middle one. I had the three older ones – John and Charlie and Marty, and then I had three younger ones – Susie, our only sister, and Joe and Andy. Joe was a college roommate with Matt Williams at UNLV. They were on the baseball team together.” Mother Charlotte was “mostly a homemaker, but many times to make ends meet she would work as a secretary. She could type like 120 words a minute.”

The family had a strong baseball orientation. Charlie, born in 1955, was an 11th-round selection of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1973 draft. He was assigned to rookie ball in 1973 and, though he worked at it for six seasons and won more games than he lost (40-33), he never rose above Single-A except for one game. His final three seasons (1976-1978) were with the Lodi Dodgers. The one game at a higher level was a 1976 start with the Triple-A Albuquerque Dukes, in which he gave up five runs over two innings and took a loss.

Marty Barrett, born in 1958, was good enough to be the starter at second for the Red Sox from 1984 through 1988. He had a career .278 batting average and was part of three Red Sox teams that made it to the postseason. The most notable was 1986, when the team reached Game Seven of the World Series against the New York Mets. He had one or more base hits in every game of that World Series, batting .433.3 A knee injury in 1989 disrupted his career, which ended with 12 games for the San Diego Padres in 1991.

The only time Marty and Tommy Barrett played on the same team was in American Legion baseball. They were in the same game once, but not at the same time. In 1991, Tommy recalled, “Marty was the starting second baseman, and the only game I ever got to start was in place of him. There was some guy on the other team giving me a hard time, and Marty went up to the guy and started a fight. Marty got thrown out of the game, and I got put in the lineup at second base.”4

An early experience showed how the Barretts’ family life connected to baseball. Speaking of their father, Tommy said, “On Sunday mornings, he would get up early – and we would get up early and help him. In Las Vegas there is a local casino called Jerry’s Nugget and he would always go there, for the 49-cent breakfast, after making the newspaper deliveries. One Sunday morning he was playing this 50-cent Keno ticket and hit on all eight numbers and won $12,500. He and my mom used a good portion of that money to go on a summer-long car vacation across the country. The very first stop was Ogden, Utah, because our older brother Charlie had been drafted by the Dodgers, so we went there to see him pitch. Our older brother John was in Boston, stationed there by the Army. We stopped by Mount Rushmore and then we stopped in Chicago and went to a game at Wrigley Field. We visited family in Indiana and in Pennsylvania. We drove through New York and then headed to Boston and to a game at Fenway Park. We’re a baseball family, so this was like the Holy Grail.

“They were playing against the Rangers. We were sitting about 20 rows up in the right-field grandstand. Just an incredible memory. Turns out it was like nine y ears later when Marty gets called up and spends most of the 1980s with the Red Sox. And 19 years later for me, I was called up for a week with the Red Sox.”

The Yankees drafted Tommy Barrett out of the University of Arizona in Tucson in the 26th round of the June 1982 draft. He was the 666th overall selection. Yankees scout Don Lindeberg is credited with his signing. There’s a story there, too.

For junior college, Tommy had gone to Mesa Community College and there was mentored by head coach Jim Frye, whom he called “incredible” as a motivator. “He had a master’s in psychology, and he knew exactly how to use it.” Then it was on to the University of Arizona, where he played for coach Jerry Kindall, a former major league infielder. In 1980, the Wildcats won the NCAA championship, the College World Series. Among the players on the team was future major league player and manager Terry Francona. Tommy Barrett had been with Mesa in 1980 but traveled with the U of A team in 1981 for a week-long series in Taiwan.

Tommy recalled, “I’m a player – you can ask anyone – hustle was every bit of my game.” But Kindall pulled him from a game in Taiwan for not running as hard as he could on a ground ball to first base. Afterward, there was a three-game PAC-10 series against Rod Dedeaux’s USC team. He’d been struggling offensively and thought he would remain benched, but Kindall put him in the first game, batting ninth. He was elated just to have the opportunity to play. In the three-game series, he said he was “pumped. I went 10-for-11 with four walks – on base 14 times.”

There was a Yankees scout at that series – Lindeberg. “If that hadn’t happened, and Marty being with the Red Sox [he’d reached Class AAA by that point], I probably never would have been drafted.”5

He was assigned to the Paintsville Yankees of the rookie-level Appalachian League. Paintsville is an Eastern Kentucky city, with just over 3,800 people as of the 1980 census. He played in 61 games and scored 59 runs, driving in 21, with a .364 batting average, which was second in the league to Kirby Puckett’s .381.

Barrett was a switch-hitter who threw right-handed. He stood 5-feet-9 and is listed as weighing 157 pounds. “Obviously, with more right-handed pitchers, you bat more left-handed, so you become more comfortable batting left-handed, since you’re doing it maybe 80 percent of the time.”6

In 1983, he hit .328 for the Single-A Fort Lauderdale Yankees over the course of 103 games, winning the Florida State League batting championship. He scored 80 runs and drove in 32, playing third base more often than second. He was clearly quick on the basepaths, with 55 stolen bases. The figure was a career high, but he stole 53 the following year and as late as 1989 stole 44 in Triple A. “I would always have many more walks than I would strikeouts. In Fort Lauderdale, I struck out 16 times in over 400 plate appearances.”7

His 1983 accomplishments resulted in climbing another rung up the organizational ladder. In 1984, most of his year was spent at Double A, where he hit .308 in 135 Southern League games for the Nashville Sounds. He drove in 44 and scored 82. He was awarded the league’s “Mr. Hustle” award.8 At the very end of the season, he was 8-for-21 in five Triple-A games for the Columbus Clippers.

Barrett started 1985 with Columbus and played in 55 games. That year, he was not as productive at the plate, hitting .260 and driving in only 11. On June 27, he was sent to Albany, New York, to play for the Double-A Albany-Colonie Yankees. He hit almost the same there (.262), driving in 18 in 57 games. One moment reminded people that there were two Barretts playing pro ball at the same time. In an “In Case You Missed It” insert in Peter Gammons’s Sunday “Notes” column in the Boston Globe, he observed that, “The day after Marty Barrett caught Bobby Grich on the hidden-ball trick, brother Tommy Barrett pulled the same trick for Albany.”9 He was returned to Columbus on August 22, but went on the temporarily inactive list near the end of August until mid-September.

That December 28, Tommy Barrett married Lisa Price, whom he had met and dated the previous year while returning to U of A to complete some unfinished college courses. In fact, Lisa had been sitting in, taking his classes for him at Arizona, but one of the professors said that Tommy really had to attend or be dropped from the course. He returned to school. Lisa’s father was a professor of food science at the University of Arizona, and she was pursuing a similar degree under her father’s tutelage.

As Barrett reflected in 2022, “Her interests were diverted, however, due to baseball and family life.” He added, “Her main focus has been our children and being involved in their education and activities. She enjoys deep study of scripture and the gospel of Jesus Christ and has served in many church leadership positions helping the people within the congregation. One of her favorite assignments was teaching daily early morning gospel classes for high school students. She loves to sing and enjoys singing in church and community choirs wherever she may be. She also loves interior design and has renovated and remodeled our previous two houses.”10

After two very early games with Columbus (he went 3-for-9), Barrett spent the rest of the 1986 season in Albany again, hitting .267, with 45 RBIs and 75 runs scored. He hit three home runs, the only year of his 11 in professional baseball in which he hit more than one for a given team. He hit nine over the course of his career.

That December, Barrett and Mike Easler were traded by the Yankees to the Philadelphia Phillies for right-handed pitcher Charles Hudson and minor leaguer Jeff Knox. Barrett played in 136 Eastern League games in 1987 with the Double-A Reading Phillies. He hit .334 and had career highs in RBIs (55) and runs scored (107). With 95 bases on balls, and being hit by six pitches, he had an on-base percentage of .445.

In 1988, after turning 28, Barrett made it to the majors. He started the year as a non-roster invitee to Phillies spring training and was placed with the Maine Guides (Triple-A International League). He did well, and on June 30, after the big club had demoted utilityman Keith Miller, they called up Barrett. Manager Lee Elia said, “Barrett’s been in a pretty good groove, and I like to give an opportunity to a scrappy player like that. He’s the kind of guy with a lot of intangibles. He knows how to move runners along, he bunts well and he’ll steal a base.”11

His debut came two days later at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium on a Saturday afternoon against the Cincinnati Reds. Philadelphia held a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning. Facing incoming reliever Jeff Gray, shortstop Steve Jeltz led off with a single up the middle. Elia asked Barrett to pinch-hit for Phillies pitcher Greg Harris. Barrett lined a single to center. Juan Samuel singled in Jeltz, with Barrett holding up at second base. Two outs followed, but Von Hayes doubled to left and Barrett scored.

He pinch-hit and walked the next day. On July 4 in Atlanta, he started at second base, and was 0-for-3 with a walk. He didn’t get another hit until doubling on July 10, so his average plunged from 1.000 to .048 through July 9. He appeared in 17 games that month, 11 of them pinch-hitting. On July 29, Barrett was sent back to Maine, batting .111. He finished the year hitting .285 for the Guides in 114 games and was named the International League’s All-Star second baseman.

Barrett was recalled on September 2 and remained with Philadelphia the rest of the season. He appeared in another 19 games, 15 of them as a pinch-hitter. His year-end average in the majors was .204 with three RBIs. The first two RBIs came in games the Phillies lost, but on September 27, Barrett came up in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, the game against the Mets tied, 4-4. Facing Roger McDowell, on a 1-1 pitch, he singled to center field and drove in Chris James for the winning run.

That October the Phillies acquired Tom Herr, with an eye toward shifting Samuel to center field. Thus, it was back to Triple A in 1989 for Barrett, playing for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. He hit .278 (.354 on-base percentage) with 44 stolen bases. On August 22, he collected his 1,000th base hit in the minor leagues.12 He was called up to Philadelphia in September, and in his first game back, a night game against the visiting Pirates on Labor Day, he went 3-for-5 (though Pittsburgh won, 7-5). It was his best performance in the majors.

Barrett appeared in 14 games for the Phillies in that callup, including seven starts. He batted .222 with one RBI and three runs scored.

In January 1990, Boston sportswriter Nick Cafardo issued a plea: “Will somebody give Tommy Barrett a job in the major leagues? Marty’s younger brother has had outstanding season after outstanding season in the minor leagues and keeps languishing in Triple A.”13

As it developed, though, Tommy Barrett missed the entire 1990 season. He was on the emergency disabled list and needed surgery on both knees, He was reinstated and released on October 1.

In early February 1991, Barrett signed as a free agent with the Red Sox, who had released brother Marty a little more than seven weeks earlier, in mid-December. Tommy Barrett spent the 1991 season with Boston’s Triple-A team, the Pawtucket Red Sox, while icing both knees after games. He lost some time with a sprained hand in midseason, but appeared in 102 games, 83 of them at second base. He also served as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner. He hit .269 (.366 OBP), with 27 RBIs and 43 runs scored.

Boston did not call him up that season. After the season was over, the Red Sox gave Barrett his release – but then signed him again as a free agent in mid-January 1992.

Just before spring training, he and his wife Lisa suffered a devastating loss when their 2½ year old daughter Jillian, who had battled leukemia since she was seven months old, died of heart failure. “Baseball is kind of a release,” Barrett said. “But most of all when I’m out there, anything I do I kind of dedicate to my little daughter. It pushes me even harder, and it makes me want to do even more.” He talked about Jilli enjoying visiting the clubhouse and added, “We have a 100 percent belief that she’s in heaven now and she’s smiling and she’s happy. And the toughest part is for us, it’s almost like we’re left behind. We want to be with her. We know we will get to see her again someday and we look forward to that day.”14

The Globe’s Cafardo quoted Butch Hobson calling Barrett “the gutsiest player I’ve ever been around.”15

Lisa was pregnant with their daughter Kendall at the time Jilli passed away. The Barretts have two sons – J.T. (Jack Thomas) and Price. Asked if he preferred to be called Tom or Tommy, he said, “My mom still calls me Tom, but it’s been Tommy ever since my baseball teammates started calling me that.”

Barrett got his last call to the majors in mid-August 1992, for three Red Sox games in Milwaukee against the Brewers. He’d begun the season with the PawSox again and had a similar year. Phil Plantier had had elbow and knee problems and was sent to Pawtucket. Butch Hobson had taken over as manager for Boston. Barrett had played for Hobson at Pawtucket in 1991. Though Mike Brumley was having a better season, Hobson asked for Barrett.

One particular experience from years earlier may have played a role. “Let’s go back seven years. Butch and I are teammates on the Columbus Clippers, Triple A with the Yankees. We’re playing against the Blue Jays. I’m hitting behind Butch. I think they thought that we hit one of their guys, so they choose to hit him. He knows they hit him on purpose, but if he charges the mound, he’s going to get ejected. On his way to first base, he veers over toward the on-deck circle and hands the bat to the batboy. He stands right next to me and says, ‘Tommy, I need you to hit a ground ball right now.’ You know what’s going through his mind. He wants to take out whoever’s turning the double play. He didn’t tell me where to hit a ground ball or anything.

“I start thinking, ‘This is going to be fun. I’m going to get out on purpose here. If I hit a ground ball to the second baseman, the shortstop’s going to be coming across the bag and he’s going to have Butch right in his view and he’s going to be able to avoid him. So, I need to hit the ground ball to the shortstop, and I need to not hit a hard one, but a slow-developing two-bouncer.’ This is all going through my mind. So, first pitch I hit a two-hopper to the shortstop and Butch just takes the second baseman out into left field!”16

Barrett played both games of the August 13 doubleheader at County Stadium. In the first game, he pinch-ran for Wade Boggs in the top of the 10th, the score tied 5-5. Boggs had led off with an infield hit. Billy Hatcher’s sacrifice bunt sent Barrett to second base. Bob Zupcic grounded out; Barrett took third but was stranded there after a walk and strikeout. Scott Cooper took Barrett’s place in the batting order. Boston scored twice in the 12th, but the Brewers tied it and then won on Jim Gantner’s homer in the 13th. In the second game, Barrett played second base, batting ninth. He popped up to third, walked, and grounded out; the Red Sox lost, 1-0, on a first-inning run. They mustered only three base hits in the game.

The next day, the score was tied, 1-1, when Jack Clark reached with one out in the top of the ninth. Barrett pinch-ran and scored what proved to be the winning run, after a single, an error, a strikeout, and a Boggs single.

On Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox lost another 1-0 game. Again, they managed only three base hits, none by Barrett. He walked, sacrificed, and flied out to left. Over the weekend, he’d contributed two walks, the sacrifice, and the run scored, but despite a .400 on-base percentage, his batting average showed .000.

The Red Sox wanted to call up catcher Eric Wedge and had to make room, so Barrett was sent back to Pawtucket. He finished the season hitting .254 in 91 games, with 21 RBIs and 55 runs scored. Boston granted him free agency in October.

Tommy Barrett had one more season in baseball, playing in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League for the Tucson Toros, a Houston Astros affiliate. He hit .279 in 69 games, with 19 RBIs and 31 runs scored.

In 1994, he was hired as third-base coach and hitting coach for the Double-A New Britain Red Sox. (Brother Marty was coaching for the San Diego Padres’ Las Vegas club.) “I’d definitely love to manage,” Tommy told Nick Cafardo in June, “But I’m having a lot of fun coaching right now. I thought after I stopped playing, it would be hard to adjust, but I still have the same enthusiasm when I go to the ballpark as a coach. Just watching some of these kids develop is fun.”17

At the end of the year, manager Jim Pankovits – with the BritSox already 22½ games out of first place – had Barrett take over as skipper for the final game on Sunday, September 4. The BritSox beat the Binghamton Mets, 2-1, at New Britain’s Beehive Field.18 After the game, Barrett said, “Maybe someday down the line, I’ll manage. I need to get my feet wet a little bit…It was Jim’s idea. He wanted me to get a little taste of it.”19

Indeed, Barrett was rehired for 1995 as manager of Boston’s Single-A team in Sarasota. The team finished in the middle of the pack, 65-68, but of course managing at that level is more about player development than winning and losing. In 1996, he served as manager for the Single-A Michigan Battle Cats (Midwest League). The team finished 60-78, in fourth place in the East Division.

That winter, he went to Mexico and managed the Navajoa team. Then another opportunity presented itself. Brothers John and Andy had started a software company in 1991, Canyon Solutions. Tommy explained: “We do juvenile court software and public defender software. Everything that needs to be tracked in a juvenile court is tracked in our JCATS court system. We also have one for attorneys – the public defenders that represent in criminal cases, in delinquent cases, in mental health and writ and appeal cases, and also in dependency cases. The majority of the state of California is using our software for the child abuse and neglect cases; that is 50, 60, 70 law firms throughout California. I’ve worked with them since January of ’97.”20

But when Barrett started with Canyon, it was through a baseball connection that might have helped the Boston Red Sox along the way to their first world championship since 1918. He explained that it was rooted in the way he worked in the Red Sox system1994-96, developing a reputation for his work with data.

“I was very meticulous in keeping track of all my reports. You have to do end-of-season reports and scouting reports on all the players in the league and send them to the front office of the Red Sox. I was really meticulous. I didn’t even do them written-wise. I did them through Excel. The Red Sox weren’t automated then. The winter meetings that year were in Scottsdale, and I was talking to [player development and scouting assistant] Erwin Bryant and I said, ‘My brothers know databases. I’ll set up a meeting with my brothers. We’ll set aside a night while you’re there and we’ll meet with you to propose that we do the software automation for the Red Sox. We’ll do all of your scouting software, player development software and all of your medical for our trainers and everything.’

“They liked the idea, but said, ‘Tommy, you know baseball. We feel this project is going to have the best chance of being successful if you leave the playing field and work right alongside your brothers on this project. We need you to be the liaison and make this work.’

“At the same time, I’m learning all the juvenile court and public defender software, which became my mainstay job. We had such a blast doing this. We named it BOSS – Baseball Operations Statistical System. Dan Duquette was the GM at the time, and we even had a quote basically saying, ‘We believe that BOSS is going to help us win a world championship.’

“This all started in ’97 and we were doing this all the way up until 2003.” After new ownership took over the Red Sox, and Theo Epstein was hired as the team’s new general manager, he asked them to convert their work to another system, which Epstein had used in San Diego and with which he was more familiar. In 2004, the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. Nonetheless, the organization’s use of analytics had become entrenched. As Barrett said, “We like to think that BOSS helped set the stage for the Red Sox to win the World Series that year.”

Tommy Barrett continued to work with Canyon Solutions as the year 2022 came to a close. He and Lisa have a granddaughter, Roxanne Charlotte. They left their Arizona home of 25 years to be nearby in the Dallas area while working remotely.

Last revised: December 15, 2022



This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello and Norman Macht and checked for accuracy by members of SABR’s fact-checking team. Thanks to Chris Dial for assistance as well.



1 The most recent set was Pedro and Ramon Martinez, whose tenure overlapped each 1999 and 2000.

2 Author interview with Tommy Barrett on September 30, 2022. Unless otherwise indicated, all direct quotations in this biography come from this interview.

3 Barrett drove in two runs in Game Six, including the 10th-inning run that gave the Red Sox an insurance run for a 5-3 lead over the Mets. The insurance gained only lasted briefly; the Mets notably scored three runs in the bottom of the 11th.

4 Nick Cafardo, “Finally, Sullivan speaks out,” Boston Globe, February 24, 1991: 48.

5 In the September 2022 interview, he said, “The reason I think I got drafted was because Marty was so good with the Red Sox and they thought, ‘Let’s take a flyer on him.’ The day I got drafted, Mike Morgan was pitching for the Yankees. He’d been a teammate of mine growing up. He was drafted by the A’s, third pick overall, drafted out of high school and five days later was pitching in the major leagues against the Baltimore Orioles.” He says that Morgan dropped by the player development office and asked what plans they had for Tommy and was more or less told that they thought he would set a good example for others in the system.

6 In the majors, he had exactly 100 plate appearances. He hit .239 against right-handed pitchers, and .158 against lefties.

7 In fact, he had 450 plate appearances. Over the course of his minor-league career, he drew 604 bases on balls to 385 strikeouts.

8 Associated Press, “G-Braves have two All-Stars,” Index-Journal (Greenwood, South Carolina), September 2, 1984: 35.

9 Peter Gammons, “In Case You Missed It,” Boston Globe, July 21, 1985: 72. Marty Barrett and Johnny Pesky each pulled off the hidden-ball trick a team-leading three times. The one against Grich was Barrett’s first, on July 1, 1985. Grich reportedly “calmly told [Barrett] that if he ever tried it again, he would rip Barrett’s eyes out. See Bill Nowlin, Red Sox Threads (Burlington, Massachusetts: Rounder Books, 2008), 435.

10 Email to author, October 1, 2022.

11 “Phillies,” The Sporting News, July 11, 1988: 25.

12 “Phillies,” The Sporting News, September 4, 1989: 28.

13 Nick Cafardo, “Negotiations are off to a slow start,” Boston Globe, January 7, 1990: 57.

14 Nick Cafardo, “Tommy Barrett keeps battling,” Boston Globe, April 3, 1992: 53. The late Nick Cafardo really admired Barrett and wrote a heartfelt appreciation of him later in the year. See “Nice going, Barrett,” Boston Globe, August 14, 1992: 69, 73.

15 Cafardo, “Tommy Barrett keeps battling.”

16 Barrett interview.

17 Nick Cafardo, “Coach class is fine for Tommy Barrett,” Boston Globe, June 26, 1994: 58.

18 This was the final game in the history of the New Britain Red Sox. The following season, the Red Sox switched their Double-A affiliation and New Britain affiliated with the Twins, becoming the Rock Cats, playing at a new ballpark, New Britain Stadium.

19 Cheryl Rosenberg, “Britsox do the work to give Barrett victory,” Hartford Courant, September 5, 1994: C2C.

20 See the Canyon Solutions website at

Full Name

Thomas Loren Barrett


April 2, 1960 at San Fernando, CA (USA)

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