The Boston Red Sox and city of Boston have done something that may go a long way in helping change the negative perceptions that people hold about the town’s culture and racial intolerance.
Bostons Public Improvement Commission on Thursday unanimously approved a proposal by the Red Sox to return Yawkey Way to its original name, Jersey Street. Lengthy debate was held during a public hearing in March.
Bostons Public Improvement Commission. (WBZ-TV)
In times when its easy to join in with the bad, good men take tough stances in hopes of breaking away from the outdated and ushering in a more inclusive, united approach. While racial and philosophical battles rage on to remove confederate flags and erase or preserve some of the vile history America harbors, Red Sox principal owner John Henry is tired of his town being synonymous with racism and oppression.
He says hes still haunted by the racist legacy of his legendary predecessor Tom Yawkey, and last year Henry told the Boston Herald that his franchise welcomes renaming Yawkey Way. It will be the first step in re-branding and modernizing the Jersey Street extension outside Fenway Park that was renamed to honor the former owner in 1977.
BREAKING: John Henry: Red Sox ready to change name of “Yawkey Way.” He’s “haunted” by racist legacy of ex-owner. https://t.co/tfS60z66Qg
An owner, whose claim to fame was being the best rich racist in baseball. A tainted member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Yawkey was in control during a 12-season stretch from 1947-58, in which the Red Sox watched every other team in Major League Baseball integrate, finally signing Pumpsie Green in 1959.
A spokesperson for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said, The mayor is supportive of this change.
Henry also received praise from prominent members of the Boston NAACP for considering this.
Following the decision, the Yawkey Foundations issued a statement. The group said it is deeply disappointed by the vote.
“We have always acknowledged that it is regrettable that the Red Sox were the last Major League baseball team to integrate. We also realize there were strong feelings in favor of renaming Yawkey Way based on that painful fact and other criticisms about the teams record concerning race and inclusivity. But we also believe that consideration of the whole story of the teams efforts to integrate and the full picture of Tom Yawkeys life more than justified keeping the name Yawkey Way.”
BREAKING: Yawkey Way will be renamed to its original moniker – Jersey Street – after allegations of racism that trailed the former owner of the #RedSox. https://t.co/IPebzAcSYo https://t.co/N46wvIvnnp
No need to review Bostons racial history in sports. From passing on signing Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays to outfielder and coach Tommy Harpers 1986 Elks Club anti-discrimination lawsuit to Black Ace David Price reportedly hearing racial taunts while warming up in the bullpen at Fenway last season and culminating in May with the Adam Jones incident in Fenway Park in which the African-American outfielder had peanuts thrown at him and was taunted with the N-word.
There’s too much negative history to erase and renaming Yawkey Way wont end racism in Boston, but it shows an effort by the owner of the towns most coveted sports franchise to set a tone of intolerance for any form of discrimination moving forward.