On April 16, 1945 -- 62 years ago -- the Red Sox, under pressure from City Councilor Isadore Muchnick and others, held a practice at Fenway Park for three Negro League players: Kansas City Monarchs shortstop Robinson, Philadelphia Stars second baseman Marvin Williams, and Cleveland Buckeyes outfielder Sam Jethroe. After the "tryout", the team never bothered contacting any of the three men.
Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley wonders why the owner of the last team to integrate is in the Hall of Fame.
"[C]an somebody explain why [Tom] Yawkey was enshrined there in the first place? (The Veterans Committee elected him in 1980, four years after his passing.)Buckley suggests that "the next time the league chooses to celebrate the life and times of Robinson, I have an idea that's far more symbolic than having a collection of players and coaches wear No. 42 on their backs. Kick Tom Yawkey out of the Hall of Fame."
The short answer, naturally, is money: As Glenn Stout and Dick Johnson pointed out in "Red Sox Century," still the best book ever written on the team: "... Yawkey had been a benefactor of the Hall for years, and his enshrinement was a kind of belated thank you."
In other words, Yawkey bought his way in.
It seems strange that Robinson is celebrated for breaking baseball's color line, while the man who did more than anyone to keep that color line in place has a plaque in Cooperstown.
Even if Yawkey got the boot, which seems both extreme and highly unlikely, that would still leave plenty of racists enshried in Cooperstown. And it wasn't as though every team quickly followed Branch Rickey's example and Yawkey was bringing up the rear all alone 12 years later.
Here are the final four teams to integrate:
New York Yankees - April 14, 1955Should the Tigers be punished as well?
Philadelphia Phillies - April 22, 1957
Detroit Tigers - June 6, 1958
Boston Red Sox - July 21, 1959