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Thread: Tom Yawkey--revisited

  1. #1

    Tom Yawkey--revisited

    I think everyone knows he is today branded as an unmitigated racist. So, because my nature is contrarian, I offer the following in mitigation--

    1. Yes, he probably was racist. But when MLB was integrated in 1947, Boston was a very racist city and continued to be so for many years. Don't take my word for it, read what Bill Russell used to say about Celtics fans and Boston when he was here, 1956-69. He did not hate whites per se because he admired and liked his coach, Red Auerbach, and the owner, both white. He hated the racism of Boston, however, and was quite vocal about it.

    2. And don't just take Russell's word for it either. Look at the attendance figures for the racially enlightened Boston Celtics during the Bill Russell era when the Celtics won 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons, by far the most successful run by any major sports franchise in the history or American sports. During that run they never sold out a single game in Boston Garden, seating capacity 14,000 (13,909). Their best season in the Russell era was 10,517, which was also the first season they ever won the NBA championship. By 1961-62, smack dab in the middle of the Russell era, the most successful in professional American sports history, it was 6,852, which was less than half of capacity. In 1955-56, the season before Russell arrived, attendance was 8,063.

    3. Then there's the Branch Rickey-Jackie Robinson saga taking place in Brooklyn and the National League. Anyone remember the movies about Jackie (there have been at least two)? Almost everywhere Jackie played he was subject to abuse because Boston was not the only racist city in America. Just about every city was, and the fans (some of them) made that abundantly clear.

    4. Then there's the issue of what form Tom Yawkey's racism took. To read some of the commentaries, you would think he was a slave owner or regularly throwing African Americans in jail or at least putting a big dent in their chances for employment.

    5. Well, not really. He denied excellent baseball players employment with his ball club for 12 years (1947-59), but it was a small part of the whole and actually didn't prevent those very few African-Americans from playing for other MLB clubs.

    6. Plus this. Roughly three years after MLB was integrated (and so were the Minors), the Negro Baseball League, "among the largest and most prosperous black-owned business ventures, were allowed to fade into oblivion." This is not an argument that Yawkey was doing a good thing by not integrating the Sox, but does say it wasn't quite as harmful as has been claimed.

    7. Yawkey bought the Sox in 1933 when their average game attendance was 3,732. The very next year it more than doubled to 7,930, still far short of the 33,000 capacity, however. The next big jump came 12 years later, 1946, the first season after World War II, when attendance shot up to 18,166 per game and stayed that way for 4 seasons, then ground slowly down and stayed there thru the 1966 season when it was 10,014. Then came 1967, Yaz, etc, and attendance more than doubled to 21,000 and basically stayed close to that until Yawkey died in 1976 (attendance that year 23,406). He had his faults as an owner, but was still better than those who proceeded him.

    8. Meanwhile, Boston itself was changing demographically. In 1940 it was 97% white, and in 1970 it was 82% white and in 1990 it was 62.8%, about where it is today. I think we can assume that attitudes have changed with the demographics. Heck, Bill Russell has even deigned to return. And word is that during his later years Yawkey got along quite well with the African Americans on the Sox.

  2. #2
    If everyone around you is racist, it's okay to be one, too.

    I'll teach that one to my children.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by moonslav59 View Post
    If everyone around you is racist, it's okay to be one, too.

    I'll teach that one to my children.
    And what are your thoughts about the Yawkey Foundation?

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by cp176 View Post
    And what are your thoughts about the Yawkey Foundation?
    I have none, other than maybe it being an admirable stab at guilt relief.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by moonslav59 View Post
    I have none, other than maybe it being an admirable stab at guilt relief.
    People only do something good to assuage guilt? That's more than a little cynical.
    The King of TalkSox has Spoken.

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    [T]he conclusion to be drawn is that there is no practical value in seeking this ideal lineup, and in that case any way in which it might be meaningfully termed "best" is irrelevant, academic at best, pedantic at worst
    Quote Originally Posted by a700hitter View Post
    Unlike hot streaks and clutch, the “Cliff” is a myth. It can’t be defined, and it’s future existence cannot be proved.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by moonslav59 View Post
    I have none, other than maybe it being an admirable stab at guilt relief.
    Wow - ouch here - I have nothing to add to your post. I'm pretty sure that the foundation was not founded due to a guilt complex. I will admit though that I have a hard time judging history by today's standards.

  7. #7
    Judging times decades or in this case 7 decades in the future is always going to put a different slant on things. Yawkey was no different than 90% of America at the time, he just had the power to hate and suppress while others just had the power to hate. Doesn't make it right, but to judge now with 60+ years of progress beyond his time is short sighted I think. Go back even further. The guy who wrote our constitution owned slaves (Madison). 2 of our Declaration of Independence writers owned slaves. Heck, one of them had 6 kids with a slave. Our first president owned slaves. What I think people need to do is never forget our history but also stop going back and vilifying people for living in the times they lived. We should celebrate our progress rather than ripping down those who made this country what it is. We have a sordid past for sure, but it is how we became what we have become. Yawkey is a product of his time
    The rebuild is complete.

  8. #8
    Yawkey is a product of his time.

    So were so many visionaries that changed the world.

    Ignorance and lock-stepping are no excuses.

    Look, it's not like i have no sympathy for the 90% that bought the whole scheme (along with so many still buying it today), but I'm certainly not going to glorify a racist, because he started a foundation that's been helping many unfortunate people.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by moonslav59 View Post
    Yawkey is a product of his time.

    So were so many visionaries that changed the world.

    Ignorance and lock-stepping are no excuses.

    Look, it's not like i have no sympathy for the 90% that bought the whole scheme (along with so many still buying it today), but I'm certainly not going to glorify a racist, because he started a foundation that's been helping many unfortunate people.
    I am not going to disagree with you. I am just saying we could tear apart practically anybody from 60 years ago when it comes to the standards set in our current place and time
    The rebuild is complete.

  10. #10
    He's dead.
    "Hating the Yankees like it's a religion since 94'" RIP Mike.


    "It's also a simple and indisputable fact that WAR isn't the be-all end-all in valuations, especially in real life. Wanna know why? Because an ace in run-prevention for 120 innings means more often than not, a sub-standard pitcher covering for the rest of the IP that pitcher fails to provide. You can't see value in a vacuum when a player does not provide full-time production."

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by jacksonianmarch View Post
    I am not going to disagree with you. I am just saying we could tear apart practically anybody from 60 years ago when it comes to the standards set in our current place and time
    I think the percent of decent and thoughtful people was higher than you think back in the day.

    Yes, many good and great people have a skeleton (or two) in their closet. Nobody is perfect, and I don't expect perfection from anyone. There's a lot of gray in between the black and white.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by moonslav59 View Post
    If everyone around you is racist, it's okay to be one, too.

    I'll teach that one to my children.
    As long as you also teach your children to be better writers than Max, we'll all be better off.
    "Let's go!" - Joseph Kelly Jr

  13. #13
    Don't say nonsense like "well, we know differently 60 years later". People knew back in the 60's, 70's and 80's that he was racist scum. Hell, I did a high school project on racism in Boston sports in the early 90's off of books and articles from decades before.

    Yes, Tom Yawkey was a racist.
    "Let's go!" - Joseph Kelly Jr

  14. #14
    Also, since this thread is going to be a shit show, this is my last post on here.
    "Let's go!" - Joseph Kelly Jr

  15. #15
    ...this is my last post on here.

    Me, too.

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