Just so you know that I’m not the only one who believes that the Boston Red Sox stripping the late Tom Yawkey of the honor of having one of the streets bordering Fenway Park named after him is disgusting virtue-signaling and ingratitude at their worst, here is commenter and Boston area native Rick M. to prove otherwise. Shaming the name and memory of Yawkey this way is the exact Red Sox equivalent of tearing down the Jefferson Monument in Washington, D.C., for the Boston Red Sox in their current form would not exist without the vision, dedication and sacrifice of its owner from the 30s to the 70s.
Incidentally, as I watched a ball bounce off the hand-operated scoreboard on the Green Monster yesterday, I noticed that the Morse code dots and dashes spelling out Tom and Jean Yawkey’s initials on the white stripes separating the columns of American League scores are still there. The team says there are no plans to remove this acknowledgement of the Yawkey debt to the city and the sport.
Isn’t that nice? The Red Sox will continue to honor him, but in code. (In related news, the D.C. government has petitioned Congress to have the statue of Jefferson be required to wear Groucho glasses.)
The team also says that it supports the work of the Yawkey Foundation, established at the same time that Jersey Street was renamed Yawkey Way. The Foundation which has given over $450 million to nonprofit organizations serving the needy of New England and Georgetown County, South Carolina, and is, understandably, ticked off. The Foundation has published a fascinating rebuttal of the narrative that Tom Yawkee was a committed racist. I will include it after the COTD.
Here is Rick M.’s Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/28/18: Ingratitude, Dishonesty, Hypocrisy, Speech Suppression And Character Assassination…Is This A Great Country, Or What?:
Don’t get me started….don’t get me started….OK – you got me started.
Where to start with such an SJW target-rich environment? How about Mr. Ugly Straw Hat himself – John Henry. Patient zero in this current social fad. Henry’s first big gig as a financial wizard was with Reynolds Securities. This company was founded by Richard Reynolds and his great-uncle and much family fortune originated with Reynolds Tobacco and Abraham Reynolds and Rock Spring Plantation. Yes, boys and girls, a slave foundation. Maybe Henry can also remove the number four at Fenway Park? The retired number of Joe Cronin who was part of the infamous tryout in 1945. And, JH, go after Ty Cobb, Cap Anson and a name change for Nig Cuppy.
You have Mayor Marty Walsh – a union thug (JMO) who is knee deep in this. Mr. Mayor – what about the Dapper O’Neil Conference Room? Why, that little gem sits in that architectural marvel known as City Hall. Dapper was a noted gay bashing, racist, and a few other things who would cruise around the city while occasionally brandishing a pistol. I personally heard old Dapper (rhymes with capper) toss around the “N” word in mixed company.
How about a name change for Faneuil Hall? That goes back to old Peter Faneuil who made his dough in the slave trade. Even had a slave warehouse at the waterfront. But, then again, nothing new as much of the old money in Boston has its roots in the slave trade. Even Harvard has some infamous traces.
Then there are the local hack writers of The Boston Herald – Steve Buckley and Michael Silverman. Both have pontificated on the off-with-his-head mantra regarding Yawkey. And these two clowns? They routinely use their Hall of Fame ballot to vote for the PED crowd.
There – I feel better.
It is indisputably true, and regrettable, that the Red Sox were last in the Major Leagues to integrate, in 1959. But the Globe’s claim that Yawkey worked to keep his team white “longer than anyone else” is contradicted by the notable efforts that he and general manager Joe Cronin made during the 1950’s to acquire and develop black players.
- In 1950, according to negroleaguebaseball.com, “the Boston Red Sox ended their era of racial exclusion” when they signed Lorenzo “Piper” Davis to a minor league contract with their Scranton Class A affiliate.
- In 1950 and 1952, the Red Sox sought to acquire Larry Doby, a black center fielder for the Cleveland Indians, at one point offering to trade Dom DiMaggio, but Cleveland decided Doby was too valuable to let go. The team also tried in late 1952 to acquire black St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect Bill Greason, but the offer was rejected.
- In 1953, the Red Sox signed a highly rated 19-year-old black prospect, Earl Wilson. After he won a 5-2 victory pitching in a spring training game against the team’s Major League squad in 1957, the consensus was that he was ready to be promoted, which would have put the Red Sox ahead of several other teams in integrating. But within two weeks of his win, Wilson was drafted by the Marines. After serving his country for two years, he returned to the team in 1959, a week after Pumpsie Green officially integrated the Major League club.
- In 1954, the team offered $100,000 to the Dodgers to acquire black second baseman Charley Neal, but was rebuffed, as reported in contemporary press accounts, including the Globe’s.
- The often-repeated story that Tom Yawkey yelled a racial slur at a tryout for Jackie Robinson and two other black ballplayers in April 1945 is demonstrably false. According to several sources, including Yawkey’s wife, Jean, he was not even in Boston at the time, and Globe columnist Will McDonough, based on his reporting, wrote in 1997, “That never happened.”
It is reasonable to ask why the Red Sox could not achieve integration of the Major League club sooner, or why, like many other teams, they were unable to sign black stars like Robinson and Willie Mays. But it is highly unreasonable to use those facts without context to paint Tom Yawkey as racially divisive.
In fact, Tom and Jean Yawkey treated everyone alike. Through the Yawkey Foundations they left almost all of their wealth for people in need, regardless of their color. To date, the Foundations have poured nearly $450 million into charities — $280 million to Boston charities.
Boston must confront the question posed by the Spotlight series and seek to change the city’s stubborn image as an inhospitable place for minorities. But there should be no doubt about Tom Yawkey’s character or about keeping the name of the street that honors his memory.