MLB’s Minnesota Twins remove statue honoring former owner outside Minneapolis stadium

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The Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball have removed a statue that honored former owner Calvin Griffith which stood outside Target Field in downtown Minneapolis, the club’s home since 2010.

In a statement issued on Friday, Juneteenth, the team condemned Griffith’s past racism.

“While we acknowledge the prominent role Calvin Griffith played in our history, we cannot remain silent and continue ignoring the racist comments he made in Waseca in 1978. His disbarring words displayed a blatant intolerance and disregard for the Black community that are the antithesis of what the Minnesota Twins stand for and value.”

Griffith became a majority owner of the team in 1955 when his uncle died, and subsequently moved the team, then the Washington Senators, to Minnesota in 1961.

“In 1978, [Griffith] went on a racist tirade at the Waseca Lions Club saying he wanted to move to Minnesota because there was a smaller African American population and a majority of ‘good, hardworking white people here’…The speech was widely condemned at the time,” The Hill recalled.

Statues all over the country deemed offensive are being pulled down in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody over which four officers have been criminally charged, one with murder.

Why it took this tragic event to get the Twins to suddenly no longer “remain silent” about the racial bias of their former owner, who passed away in 1999, is an open question.

In general, corporate America has engaged in a significant amount of pandering following the Floyd protests.

Reasonable people can agree or disagree about pulling down statues and whether that constitutes erasing both the good and bad aspects of history. Most would agree that statues on public property should only be removed through a legal process rather than by woke mob rule, however. The owners of private property, of course, can make their own decisions.

Former Twins superstar Rod Carew, who is black, said that “I have long forgiven Calvin for his insensitive comments and do not believe he was a racist. That was NOT my personal experience with Calvin Griffith — prior to or following that day,” the Star Tribune reported.

The Twins’ current owners, the Pohlad family, plan to donate $25 million to racial justice reform.

Parenthetically, MLB has yet to reach an agreement with the players’ union about starting up the 2020 season, with a first step being Spring Training 2.0. The regular season was set to start at the end of March when the coronavirus derailed all the sports leagues.

MLB players have expressed concern about the recent spike in COVID positive tests in Florida, where roughly half of the teams train. Professional athletes, by virtue of their age and fitness, are in a very low-risk group for virus-related fatalities, however.

While blue-check Twitter reacts favorably to any statue removal in the fight against so-called systemic or institutional racism, not everyone on social media approved of the Twins’ decision about the Calvin Griffith effigy.

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Robert Jonathan

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