The Brouhaha Over Yawkey Way – Will It Spread to Lee County?

Well as we’ve seen in the past the Boston Globe is pursuing another vendetta. This time against  the former owner of the Boston Red Sox Tom Yawkey and his wife Jean (Hollander) Yawkey who owned the Red Sox for about sixty year. A street next to the park where the Red Sox play their home games is called Yawkey Way. The Globe without a scintilla of proof suggests that Tom (and I suppose his wife since the street is named after both) is a racist.

The only evidence to suggest Yawkey is a racist is that the Redd Sox were the last team in Major League Baseball (MLB) to employ a black as one of their players. There is nothing in Yawkey’s background to suggest he was one. He made no racists statements nor did he segregate Fenway Park into black and white areas.

Tom Yawkey was born in Detroit, He went to Yale where he took engineering and science courses and graduated in 1925 age 22. With a nice inheritance from his forebears at age 30 in 1933 he bought the Red Sox and owned them until his death in 1976. Thereafter they were owned by his wife Jean (Hollander) Yawkey until 1992. Here’s an article that suggests he is a racist by twisting one statement he made although reading the full article it appears that the main conclusion is based on the idea that he did not hire Jackie Robinson.

As you know Robinson was the first black to play in MLB. He was hired by the Dodgers in 1947. That year the Indians (Larry Doby) and the Browns (Hank Thompson and Willard Brown) also hired blacks. It was not until 1949 that the next team NY Giants hired a black player (Monte Irvin.) At the end of the 40s only four teams had hired a total of 11 black baseball players.

By the end of 1953 four other teams had brought on black players: Boston Braves (Sam Jethroe), Chicago White Sox (Minnie Minoso), Philadelphia  Athletics (Bob Trice) and Chicago Cubs (Ernie Banks).  In 1954 the Pirates, the Reds, the Cardinals and the Washington Senators joined  in; in 1954 the Yankees brought on Elston Howard; the Phillies hired a black player in 1957, Detroit in 1958, and the Red Sox in 1959.

Was Bob Carpenter owner of the Philadelphia Phillies a racist? He was the last owner in the National League to bring on a black player. Were Dan Topping and Dell Webb who owned the Yankees from 1945 to 1964 racists? What about Detroit owners Walter Briggs?  (In Wikipedia it states he“would not allow black fans to sit in the boxes at Briggs Stadium.” It is a worthless smear since it cites no source.)

The point is that some owners had to be the last to use black players. Is there some magic date that makes one a racist for not having done it sooner?

The Brouhaha over the street name was started by the present owner of the Boston Red Sox John William Henry II. I’ve been around for a long while so when I write the name Henry I’m brought back to an earlier day when the rhythm and blues songs “Dance With Me Henry” and “Henry Got Flatfeet” were popular.  My image of that Henry is that of Red Sox owner Henry.

Henry was born in Quincy. Not the Quincy that borders Boston on the south but the one in Illinois. He grew up in Illinois, Arkansas, and California. He was, according to Wikipedia, a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and their star Stan Musial.  He owned a couple of minor league baseball teams, had a small interest in the Yankees in 1991, purchased the Florida Marlins in 1999, and in late 2001 bought the Red Sox.

I lay out his background to show he has had little connection to Boston sports. He has no sense of how the old-time fans view Tom Yawkey. We think of the Jimmy Fund. Once started under the Braves it continues since 1953 with Sox. Photo on page is Ted Williams with a Jimmy Fund patient.

Henry has no concern for Boston’s history. He is a business man like Trump. He owns the Boston Globe.  He uses that to advance his endeavor. His evidence is shaky but his high handedness is obvious. Why if he is so sensitive to Yawkey Way is he not sensitive to having his baseball team go to a county that is named after a man who fought to keep blacks in slavery. Every winter the Red Sox have their winter home games at their stadium in Fort Meyers, Florida. That city is in a county named after a Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

Obviously Lee County will not be mau-maued into changing its name by Henry. But if he were really on the level and not intent on feigning his concern for symbols he would not have his winter sessions in that county. On that he is silent.

But I suggest there is more to Henry’s faux game than meets the eye.



11 thoughts on “The Brouhaha Over Yawkey Way – Will It Spread to Lee County?

  1. I , like our Moderator , am proud to say I am not Anti-Semantic !

    ( Popped that from Gene Simmons . It is a Keeper . )

  2. Point well taken . Matt is creative in his use of mau mau , and this is a tribute to all who mau mau in practice or prosody . However , the notion of a Southern white aristocrat , John Henry , rattling his tigers teeth and ju ju beads on Yawkey Way is a trifle … Uncomfortable .

    The next time John Henry mau mau’s the owners of Rowe’s Wharf for better berthing fees for his ostentatious yacht we will reconsider the ostentations of language as it might be
    used by the great Sahib !

    Bill , Joe Gould says hello . Nicely said .

  3. Very illumating Matt, John and NC
    I’d humbly suggest the English language is versatile enough to use the phrase mau mauing liberally . . .anyone or any group can mau mau and any one or any group can be the recipient of Mau Mauing

    They are Mau Mau-ing Laura Ingram today.
    My reaction: I will boycott any company that boycotts Laura Ingram’s show; I start with two: Nestle’s and Johnson&Johnson . .I’ll never by any of their products again in my life!

    Maybe I’m engaging in reverse Mau Mau-ing.

    Here’s another point: English professors and Literary Experts don’t own the English Language . . .use English as you will . . invent new terms . . .let it fly . .we maximize our own freedoms (and enjoyments) by allowing others to maximize theirs

    As the tort adage has it: “Swing till your heart’s content; but your right to swing your arms ends at another person’s nose.

    They tried to Mau Mau Boston College into changing the name of its athletics Yawkey Building. BC told them to take a flying leap off a tall building

  4. Wolfe was not about to link … Mau Mau and … Black Panther … except tangentially . It is the same hustle . He is totally honest , but not crazy.

  5. Nicely put ! Right Church wrong pew !

    Radical Chic & Mau Mauing The Flak Catchers … was the book . There were two titled essays in it .

    They are not mutually exclusive .

    For an admirable synthesis of the two essays that underscores the themes central to both go here : Matt Of Boston . Com blog — Post 4/2/18 written- John King McDonald .

  6. Excellent. 100% correct. Henry is just a carpetbagger and a smear artist. A case can be made that he, others at the Globe and the DOJ in Boston combined to violated the Constitutional Rights of the Probation Officers. They conspired to deprive O’Brien et al of their Right to Liberty by concocting the false claim of not hiring the best qualified person for a probation job. No such crime ever existed in American or world history. A special prosecutor is needed. 2. Harrington who runs the Yawkey Foundatin, a 500 million dollar charity, should tell Mayor Walsh that if the name is changed not one penny of the $20 million annual gifts from the charity will go to anyone in the city of Boston.See if the Mayor wants to lose out on that largess over a symbolic gesture. 3. Radical Chic is Wolfe’s story about Bernstein’s exclusive party where only the elites gathered and to prove his liberal credentials he invites the Panthers. It backfires when to his dismay he finds out the anti Semetic nature of the panthers program. Mau Mauing the Flak Catcher is about hustling jobs from city officials in San Francisco, It ends with Jomo Yarumba and his program the New Thang. Mau Mau comes from the technique the independence leader Kenyatta and his followers used in their struggle in Kenya. By using screams and loud noise while fighting they could intimidate their opponents into fleeing. It worked they threw the Brits out.

  7. Got the mau mau ref . However , its use here would be an ironic one . Been on a re-read of Electric Kool-Aid Test after reading it as a teen . I have been revisiting Tom Wolfe . Mau Mauing The Flak Catchers was a great piece you have read I am sure or will want to if you have not . He describes a chic NYC party chez Leonard Bernstein and the day-glo eclecticism of basically the very rich doing what the Scott and Zelda’s of the World used always and still love to do : Slum ! The times are the late Sixties . The group is jour is the Black Panthers . And the anorexic etchings in haute couture he calls ” Social X-Rays . ” As Eve Arden famously remarked ” People want chic . Catholic and Jewish isn’t chic . Episcopalian is chic ! ”

    Well , the Episcopalians are being wooed by the Panthers and so let the Mau Mauing begin is the party script . I had an old telecom associate from Buffalo say to me once when I said to him ” Well , the squeaky wheel gets the grease , ” about a colleague – ” Or John , sometimes the wheel just gets replaced . ”

    Essentially ” Mau Mauing ” describes a dynamic wherein a disenfranchised and revolutionary chic bunch , the Panthers , make a lot of noise to the Rich and get a lot of oil on that great creaking wheel . Wolfe later went on to expand this concept in BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES and called this Al Sharpian , in modern context ,” rabble rousing ” and its remunerative reparation and temporary remediation ” Steam Control . ”

    Thus , Mau Mauing has a history . It is not the dynamic of a rich man bamboozling . It is the dynamic of his being bamboozled . It is cognitively dissonant to use it elsewise .

    John Henry is too hip for the room !

  8. Great post. Would someone send this post to the Boston Herald, the Patriot Ledger, and other media that may publish it. Great post !!!

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