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My! It Shure Ain’t Sweet

Historian Glenn Stout finds the smoking gun concerning Tom Yawkey’s take on African Americans. From a 1965 Sports Illustrated article on the Red Sox by Jack Mann:

“They blame me,” Yawkey says, ‘and I’m not even a Southerner. I’m from Detroit.” Yawkey remains on his South Carolina fief until May because Boston weather before then is too much for his sensitive sinuses. “I have no feeling against colored people,” he says. “I employ a lot of them in the South. But they are clannish, and when that story got around that we didn’t want Negroes they all decided to sign with some other club. Actually, we scouted them right along, but we didn’t want one because he was a Negro. We wanted a ballplayer.”

Stout continues:

But then comes the first of two smoking guns: “But they are clannish,” Mann quotes Yawkey as saying of African Americans, “and when that story got around that we didn’t want Negroes they all decided to sign with some other club.”

No single sentence could be more revealing – or more pathetic. First Yawkey offers that all African Americans share the same characteristics – in this case, being “clannish.” That kind of stereotyping is damning enough, but when he states that “when that story got around that we didn’t want Negroes they all decided to sign with some other club,” he fantasy land. Yawkey is making the claim that the reason the Red Sox remained white is the fault of the black ballplayers themselves. He is saying nothing less than “African Americans erroneously thought we were racist so therefore they refused to sign with us.”



1 a.O   ~  Nov 18, 2009 1:34 pm

Respectfully, I think that Bull Durham ad is in poor taste.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Nov 18, 2009 1:43 pm

Yeah, I was debating that. I'll take it down. Was on the fence with that. No offense intended.

3 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 18, 2009 2:38 pm

Hm. I think the second quote is more damning than the first, actually. The "clannish" quote comes off to me as one of those misguided "people of a certain generation" rants, while the "we wanted a ballplayer" quote is just total horseshit.

4 Jay Jaffe   ~  Nov 18, 2009 3:13 pm

Agree with [3]. By 1954, Yawkey and company had already seen both Jackie Robinson, whom they tried out, and Willie Mays, whom they scouted, win MVP awards in the NL. By the time Pumpsie Green debuted, 8 out of 10 the last NL MVP awards had gone to black players, and 9 of the last 10 NL pennants had gone to the three NL teams which embraced integration the most quickly (the Dodgers, Giants and Braves). The Sox missed the boat on plenty of quote-ballplayers-unquote during that timespan while Yawkey stuck to his racist rationalizations.

5 sonyahennystutu   ~  Nov 18, 2009 3:38 pm

What an asshole.

6 Raf   ~  Nov 18, 2009 8:53 pm

Unfortunately, that's just the way things were in MLB, or at the very least, in the AL...

7 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Nov 18, 2009 9:41 pm

My favorite is the "I have nothing against negroes, in fact, some of my best tenant farmers are negroes!"


8 Evil Empire   ~  Nov 20, 2009 11:46 pm

Question: As a Yankee fan is it ok at all to be just a wee bit thankful that dumbasses ran the red sox during that era? Otherwise they absolutely would have had Ted Williams AND Willie Mays!

Seriously I wish everyone back then had been color blind but they weren't (the Yanks were almost as bad as the sox with Ellie Howard being the one exception that makes them better). I guess I'm glad that the more sensible owners were in the NL since the Yanks couldn't have an owner smart enough to get, not just Mays, but Aaron, Gibson, etc etc.

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