August 18, 2017

Red Sox Want City Of Boston To Change Name Of "Yawkey Street"

Red Sox owner John Henry wants the city of Boston to rename Yawkey Way.

Henry told the Boston Herald that "the street name has always been a consistent reminder that it is our job to ensure the Red Sox are not just multi-cultural, but stand for as many of the right things in our community as we can - particularly in our African-American community and in the Dominican community that has embraced us so fully. ... I am still haunted by what went on here a long time before we arrived."


Yawkey famously declined to sign Jackie Robinson two years before the Brooklyn Dodgers and then passed on a chance to sign Willie Mays in 1949. Under the ownership of Yawkey (1933-76), the Red Sox were the last major league team to integrate its roster, a stunning 12 years after Robinson made his 1947 debut. The street (formerly Jersey Street) was renamed in 1977, the year after Yawkey's death.

Henry revealed that he had discussed renaming Yawkey Way "a number of times with the previous mayoral administration (Thomas Menino) and they did not want to open what they saw as a can of worms". Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that the team will first "bring the name-change issue to the other owners of properties on Yawkey Way, and if that is successful, they will bring their case to Mayor Marty Walsh". A spokesperson for Walsh says he "is supportive of this change".

Chairman Tom Werner: "John speaks for the club. When we came in, we were aware of the history of the Red Sox ... This is this just something that we've been talking about for a while. We know that there are a number of our fans who have felt uncomfortable coming to Fenway Park, especially people of color, and we've always felt we want to be inclusive, no matter what someone's color of their skin is ... We're confident that we'll be able to do it. We haven't figured out what the name of the street might be called, but this is the beginning of the process."

The Herald also published an opinion piece by Bill Speros, who writes under the name "Obnoxious Boston Fan". The headline - "Erasing Yawkey From Fenway Not Way To Go" - seems to indicate that he does not support a name change.

After acknowledging the team's racist past and the improvements made by Henry and his group, Speros starts spouting nonsense, equating the issue of changing the street name to extreme scenarios that exist only in his mind: "[T]hen what? Do the Red Sox scrub Yawkey from their official history? Does Henry's newspaper purge the names of Tom and Jean Yawkey from its archives? Does Teddy Ballgame's statue come down because he may have killed Asian civilians while flying combat missions over Korea?"

Speros breaks the news that changing the name of Yawkey Street "alters nothing from the past ... [and] does not undo Yawkey's misdeeds". (Of course, no one has suggested that it would.) Speros also seems to say that because racist assholes will always be racist, why bother doing anything? As far as substance, this issue is "a double-stack nothingburger with extra cheese" and he thinks Henry is doing this mainly to make himself feel good.

It would seem that Speros's views are far from isolated. A poll at WEEI.com asks: "Should Yawkey Way Be Renamed?" At 2:00 PM, the voting is No (64%) and Yes (37%).

3 comments:

allan said...

WEEI's Alex Reimer notes: "It's silly for white people to sit there and tell black people what should and shouldn't offend them."

allan said...

SoSHer charlieoscar:
"And by the way, while Pumpsie Green was the first Black player to appear in the major leagues for the Red Sox, they did have a minor leaguer by the name of Lorenzo "Piper" Davis who played for their Scranton affiliate at age 26 in 1950 and was leading the team in batting average, home runs, and RBIs in 15 games but two days before the May 15 deadline, he was cut for "economic reasons."
"Who Was Piper Davis?" by David Nevard with David Marasco, Buffalo Head Society: http://www.buffalohead.org/piper.htm is quite an interesting read and has one explanation of why Willie Mays was not signed."

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SoSHer TonyPenaNeverJuiced suggests "2004th Street"

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Elliot Slater said...

If you want to make this change (which I support) less controversial, you rename the street Jimmy Fund Way. The Yawkey name will survive anyway, on the numerous area hospitals that were given major donations from The Yawkey Foundation.