The Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball want to follow the nationwide trend of erasing history by renaming a street outside of its stadium.
Yawkey Way, an extension of Jersey Street outside of the historic Fenway Park, was named for former owner Tom Yawkey, who owned the team from 1933 – 1976.
That included the years of 1947-1958 in which every team but the Red Sox added black baseball players to their rosters, the Boston Herald reported.
Now the new owner, Ed Henry, who purchased the club from Yawkey’s widow , Jean Yawkey and the Yawkey Trust, said his team should lead the movement to rename the street as he is “haunted” by the team’s racist legacy.
“I discussed this a number of times with the previous mayoral administration and they did not want to open what they saw as a can of worms,” he told the Herald in an email. “There are a number of buildings and institutions that bear the same name. The sale of the Red Sox by John Harrington helped to fund a number of very good works in the city done by the Yawkey Foundation (we had no control over where any monies were spent). The Yawkey Foundation has done a lot of great things over the years that have nothing to do with our history.”
The street is owned by the city of Boston and paid for by taxpayer dollars.
Henry told the Herald he’d like to rename the street after the team’s prolific modern-day slugger David Ortiz either as “David Ortiz Way” or by his nickname “Big Papi Way.”
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“The Red Sox don’t control the naming or renaming of streets,” the team owner said. “But for me, personally, 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. The Red Sox Foundation and other organizations the Sox created such as Home Base have accomplished a lot over the last 15 years, but I am still haunted by what went on here a long time before we arrived.”
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh “is supportive of this change,” a spokesperson for the mayor told the Herald.
Boston NAACP President Tanisha Sullivan raised the idea.
“I am encouraged by this step forward. Although in some respects some people might say this is ‘symbolic’ or ‘this is simply a street,’ I don’t take this step lightly. I do believe it serves as a turning point for us if we take it as an opportunity that changes the conversation,” she said.
“To me, this statement by John Henry is really a continuation of what I have heard and seen the last few months from the Red Sox, and I expect we as a city will see more reactions like this not only from the Red Sox but also from other business leaders, Sullivan said.
“John has been very strong on this issue from the day he and (chairman) Tom (Werner) arrived in 2002 and today is another reflection of that,” she said. “I’m very, very proud to work for an ownership group that is committed to creating an inclusive environment for the fans, the players and the employees. It was a very strong message that John delivered.”
The Massachusetts House of Representatives is currently considering a bill to rename nearby Yawkey Station.
Red Sox Fans weighed in on social media.
Just suddenly became an issue….. I’d have much more respect if he said this 5 years ago instead of riding a convenient wave today
— Aaron (@ahoskins1028) August 18, 2017
If he was so haunted by it why wasn’t it changed before?
— Devon Taylor (@DevonTuna) August 17, 2017
Is MGH and BC gonna give their money back? Think not. These are teachable moments, not ones to change history. PC police at it again.
— Jim Silver (@Zachspops) August 17, 2017
If u disagree with John Henry, tell him to FIRE all his Minority Players, then let’s c how many games the Red Sox win! ZERO
— IamCovfefe (@I_amCovfeFe) August 17, 2017
Strong play. I hope the team from Cleveland follows suit
— Andrew Richardson (@arichardsonent) August 18, 2017
Call it Green Street for the first black player signed by the Sox
Elijah “Pumpsie” Green
The last team to integrate #RedSox pic.twitter.com/XXe25O8omS
— joe (@JoeAno1) August 17, 2017
Not good. This is starting down a real slippery slope…what’s next?
— Colin Gillis (@colingillis59) August 17, 2017
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Black professor gets the difference between whites who are tired of being browbeaten and real racists https://t.co/bdXTcyjJnO pic.twitter.com/Jg5dj5v66D
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