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Correction: Epstein's wedding did not take place at Coney Island, as stated by Epstein's father, Leslie, and reported here earlier. Click here for further explanation.

Hitch was in his plan

Epstein took a wife, left media in dark

Theo Epstein is a married man.

The Red Sox general manager threw a shutout at the paparazzi, gossip columnists, nosy sportswriters, celebrity bloggers, and any other potential wedding crashers by sneaking off earlier this month to marry Marie Whitney, and also managed to keep their honeymoon a secret.

Epstein's father, Leslie, who heads the creative writing department at Boston University, confirmed last night that his son and Whitney were married.

"We're very happy for them, of course, but we can't say much more ..."

"I hope there's much happiness for them and for all Sox fans . . . this season."

Perhaps we should not have expected anything less of Epstein, whose skills at stealth have been amply demonstrated since he became general manager of the team 50 months ago, be it in his successful bidding for Japanese pitching star Daisuke Matsuzaka last fall or his own hasty exit from Fenway Park in a gorilla costume on Halloween night in 2005, when he temporarily quit his job.

Epstein, who turned 33 last Dec. 29, has been fiercely protective of his privacy, especially in regard to his engagement to Whitney, 28, who was pursuing graduate studies in health care policy at Harvard four years ago when she became a volunteer at Horizons for Homeless Children, which addresses the needs of homeless children in family shelters throughout the state.

Epstein, who proposed to Whitney at Davio's restaurant in the Back Bay last May, did not formally announce his engagement, and chafed at media reports about their pending nuptials.

Those reports had pegged the wedding to take place this summer, most likely in August, a year after Sox owner John W. Henry threw a party for the couple on his yacht. But Epstein and Whitney evidently had other ideas.

Epstein and his wife are out of the country this week, and his track record suggests that the topic of matrimony will be off-limits when spring training convenes next month in Fort Myers, Fla. -- other than perhaps a little private gloating at his coup in keeping it a secret.

Epstein's wedding might help to explain -- in small part, at least -- some of the delay surrounding the signing of outfielder J.D. Drew, whose agent had announced in early December that the player was coming to the Red Sox. Both agent Scott Boras and Epstein said that part of the delay was due to Boras working on other clients' deals and Epstein being out of the country -- which dovetails roughly with the time he and Marie may have slipped off to wed.

Epstein, who returned to the Red Sox last January, is in his second year of what was believed to be a three-year agreement, the same one he'd rejected the previous fall. But according to a source close to the club, the deal is actually three one-year contracts, which include provisions for either party to renew or withdraw from the agreement.

(Correction: A story in yesterday's Sports section quoted an e-mail by Theo Epstein's father, Leslie, as saying the Red Sox general manager and his fiancee, Marie Whitney, had gotten married at Nathan's hot dog stand at Coney Island, N.Y. Leslie Epstein said yesterday he had been joking about where the wedding took place. Details of the ceremony have remained secret at the request of Theo Epstein.)