April 5, 2010

John Lackey's wife has ties to Pine Tree State

BY KEVIN THOMAS Maine Sunday Telegram

The 2010 Boston Red Sox season begins tonight with the usual optimism for New England's favorite team.

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A HOME IN BOSTON: New Boston Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey is married to Krista Lackey, formerly Krista Clark, who went to high school at Sanford and graduated from the University of New Hampshire. Lackey wouldn’t say he signed in Boston because of his wife’s New England ties, but it sure didn’t hurt.


One reason to be positive is the off-season signing of free-agent pitcher John Lackey, one of the leading American League pitchers of the past seven years.

During the Red Sox press conference to introduce Lackey in December, Boston general manager Theo Epstein made a point of recognizing Krista Lackey, a Sanford High graduate in 1998.

Epstein thanked Krista for helping lure her husband to New England.

John Lackey not only joined the Red Sox, he moved closer to a large, extended family in Maine, full of Clarks, Hamiltons, Brawns, Murphys and more.

"I've met only a few of them," John Lackey said last week from spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. "I've never been to Maine, but I'm sure we'll get up there sometime during the season."

Lackey won't exactly say he signed with the Red Sox because his wife was from Maine.

"But it didn't hurt," he said.

Joining a perennial contender with one of baseball's highest payrolls also helped.

"If it wasn't a good organization and a good team, it wouldn't matter where her family was from," he said.

Krista Clark is actually from California, although her grandparents, the late Edward and Ruby Clark, are Mainers.

Krista moved to Maine when she was 12. Initially settled in Scarborough, she then moved to Sanford when her father, Nielsen Clark, bought the Oakwood Inn (which he no longer owns).

At Sanford High, Krista was an honors student and played for the basketball and tennis teams.

After Sanford, Clark graduated from the University of New Hampshire. She then moved back to California, and eventually was introduced to a professional baseball pitcher for the Anaheim Angels, John Lackey, in 2005. They began dating a year later.

Lackey, originally from Abilene, Texas, is known as a fierce competitor on the field, rarely hiding his emotions. In Krista's presence, he was more low-key.

"That's what attracted me to him," Krista said. "I liked his southern charm. He was just a quality guy, really respectful, always opening the door for me.

"He definitely didn't have that harshness he has on the field."

They became engaged and Krista's baseball-crazed family became torn. The future in-law pitched for the Angels, usually a strong team and a rival to the Red Sox.

"Secretly, we cheered for John," said Meredith Sanville, one of Krista's cousins, now living in Cumberland. "But, in our house, we are through-and-through Red Sox fans."

Through Krista, her relatives now had access to a handful of Red Sox tickets when the Angels came to Fenway Park. But Krista placed restrictions on those sitting in the Angels family section.

"I had to tell my relatives they were not allowed to wear their Red Sox hats and T-shirts," Krista said. "They were obviously still Red Sox fans. But when John pitched, they had to be neutral."

That neutrality ended last December. Lackey became a free agent, able to sign with any team.

When Lackey competed for the Angels, he criticized antiquated Fenway Park and was once overheard saying the place should be "blown up."

But that was apparently the competitor in Lackey talking. Epstein said he was surprised to find out through Lackey's agent that the pitcher would consider Boston.

Krista said her husband's dislike for Fenway was from a visitor's perspective.

"You don't like it when you're on the other side because it's very intense and the fans are very, um, you know?" Krista said, not explaining the specific actions and verbiage of some of those intense Fenway fans.

(Continued on page 2)

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