Red Sox Owner Wants Yawkey Way Renamed — Another Monumental Move?

Roz Zurko - Author

Aug. 18 2017, Updated 2:21 p.m. ET

John Henry, who is the owner of the Boston Red Sox team, has had enough of the name Yawkey, as in Yawkey Way. It is a name that haunts him and he wants to rename the iconic Yawkey Way to ease his conscience. For Henry, Yawkey Way is an “uncomfortable reminder” of a time in history.

For Henry, the name Yawkey dates back to the days of a racist past for the Boston Red Sox. It represents Tom Yawkey, who was the owner of the Red Sox back in the days when Jackie Robinson was signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. But unlike other teams, the Boston Red Sox would not “break their own color barrier” for another dozen years after Robinson hit the Dodgers lineup, reports BoSoxInjection.

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Henry’s decision comes during a time when many historic monuments are already gone or in danger of being demolished around the country for what they represent when it comes to the history of this nation. As the New York Post describes it, changing the name of Yawkey Way, which is the famous street that runs along Fenway Park, comes at a time when “a renewed light is placed on monuments and their inspirations around the country.”

This isn’t a decision that Henry or the Red Sox team can make on their own. The Red Sox have no control over the naming and renaming of the streets. But Henry said for him, “personally, the street name has always been a consistent reminder that it is our job to ensure the Red Sox are not just multicultural, 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.”

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Henry said that the Red Sox Foundation and other organizations spawned from the Red Sox have quite a few accomplishments under their belts today. With that said, he’s still “haunted” by things that went on in the past, long before he or any members of the team or organization who are there today had arrived.

Yawkey was the owner of the Red Sox team from 1933 to 1976. It was in 1977 that the street was dedicated to him as Yawkey Way. It is a street that carries traffic, except when a game is on. That’s when Yawkey Way is closed to vehicles and it is an open space for the Red Sox fans as they make their way to the stadium. The address of the Red Sox stadium, which is Fenway Park, is 4 Yawkey Way.

Henry wants the street renamed after an iconic player. He’d like to see it renamed David Ortiz Way or Big Papi Way. Back in June, part of Yawkey Way was renamed for Ortiz. It is called David Ortiz Drive.

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According to Henry, he is hoping the Red Sox will lead the way to make this change happen, but he is looking for the public to join in if they “favor a change.” His reason for doing this today may be found in this sentence quoted from Henry. He said “we would welcome” the name change “in light of the country’s current leadership stance with regard to tolerance.”

This isn’t a good move for some folks, and the Yawkey Foundation responded to Henry’s name change proposal by insisting current racial issues in America be considered separate from the Yawkey family philanthropy.

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They released a statement saying,

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“Jean and Tom Yawkey’s philanthropy has always been color blind. Their extraordinary generosity has made a significant impact on Massachusetts and the Greater Boston community, contributing more than $450 million to hundreds of non-profit organizations and helping improve the lives of thousands of disadvantaged children of all backgrounds.

“We are honored to have the Yawkey name on so many organizations and institutions that benefit Bostonians of all races — and disheartened by any effort to embroil the Yawkeys in today’s political controversy.”

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[Featured Image by Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock]


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