SBD/August 18, 2017/Franchises

Red Sox Owner John Henry Says He Wants To Change The Name Of Yawkey Way

Yawkey Way is named after the Red Sox' former, and controversial, owner
Red Sox Owner John Henry said that the team "welcomes renaming Yawkey Way," the Jersey Street extension outside Fenway Park, and that the they should "take the lead in the process," according to Michael Silverman of the BOSTON HERALD. Henry said that he is "still 'haunted' by the racist legacy" of late former Owner Tom Yawkey. Silverman writes Yawkey's legacy from '33-76, and then by his widow Jean Yawkey and the Yawkey Trust until Henry bought the team in '02, was "as complicated as it was lengthy." An "inescapable, significant and enduring part of the Yawkey legacy is a racist one." The Red Sox "watched every other team" in MLB integrate "before they became the last club to do so" in '59. But that does "not need to diminish the positive impact" of the Yawkey Trust. The name Yawkey Way is "different" though, because it is a "public street, funded by taxpayer dollars." The team is "not trying to erase its history." But Henry said that the "time is right for the change and the conversation about race that it will spark." Henry: "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." If it were "up to Henry, he would rename the street 'David Ortiz Way' or 'Big Papi Way.'" The name-change process "needs to start with Henry and the one other Yawkey Way abutter petitioning the City of Boston for approval." Henry: "The Red Sox don’t control the naming or renaming of streets. 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" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/18).

: Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy said the team internally has had "ongoing discussion over the last several months" about the name change. Those talks date back to "at least early May" when Orioles CF Adam Jones was taunted at Fenway with racial slurs. He added that the team will "speak with Fenway’s neighbors over the possibility of changing the street name in the coming weeks" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/18). Kennedy: "What John did was send a very loud message about what he’s been saying since we arrived in 2002, which is we want Fenway to be open and inclusive and tolerant to everyone" (, 8/17). ESPN’s Ryen Russillo said of changing the name of the street, "If you want to take it down because of Tom Yawkey's history, then go ahead and take down. But I always ask at what point do we get to that line of 'is this really solving any problems,' or are we just trying to find something else that we can change because we feel bad about something that happened in the '50s?” ESPN’s Max Kellerman: “If the status quo is such that it is offensive to people for good reason, then I think that’s the answer" ("First Take," ESPN, 8/18).
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