Bruce Hurst sat on his living room couch. Crying.

Rich Gedman, the Red Sox catcher, was on the phone."We had to do it, Geddy. . . . Yeah. . . . Yeah. Thanks. I'm going to miss you guys."

Gedman was saying something. Hurst listened, holding the phone, sometimes looking out the window into his front yard, sometimes looking down at the rug.

It was fitting. The catcher was talking to the pitcher, trying to settle him down.

Whatever Gedman was saying now, Hurst listened for a long time, until he couldn't anymore, until he had to hang up.

"I . . . I . . . Thanks, Geddy," said Hurst. His voice cracked.

Hurst put the portable phone down on the coffee table and used his wrist to wipe a stream of tears from his cheek.

His 3-year-old son burst into the room.

It had been like that all Thursday afternoon. The baby was sick. The phone was ringing constantly. A press conference had been held at Channel 5 in nearby Needham.

All week the police have had to patrol Hurst's street and driveway to control the television crews and reporters that had been stalking the house for the big story: Was the Red Sox' ace lefthander really leaving Boston? Would Hurst go to San Diego even though the Red Sox were offering him more money? (Thursday he answered the questions: Yes.)

"You know, I read that column in the Globe today, the one that said I did it because of greed," said Hurst, 30 and a native Utahn. "How does he know that? I never even met the guy."

"I love Boston, the charm of Fenway Park, the tradition. All that has been instilled in me. But I have to think about my family," said Hurst.

"You know, I've spent 13 years away from my home, from my family. Thirteen years. That's almost half my life. Now it's time to go back home. That's all."

Hurst said that he began thinking about leaving Boston the day after the last playoff game in Oakland. Like any father, he began thinking about what was best for his family.

Of his three children, one son will enter the first grade next year. He didn't want his children to make a lot of friends in school and then move away. His wife, Holly, is from Salt Lake City. He is from St. George, where his parents live.