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Tag: tom yawkey

My Kind of Mental Case


From a John Lardner column for Newsweek, “The World’s Richest Problem Child”:

The St. Louis Browns have hired a professional pyschologist for the spring training season to currycomb their inferiority complex. The Boston Red Sox, on the other hand, have chosen a simpler way of treating their own pyschological problem, who goes by the name of Theodore S. Williams.

I am taking the word of certain experts for it that Williams has, or is, a psychological problem. Around the American League the pitchers tell you that if anything is wrong with Williams, they can only pray that it’s not catching. Give three or four other batsmen Theodore’s disease and the pitching profession will be totally wrecked.

However, as I say, many students of human mentality (most of them play the same instrument that I do, the typewriter, and have learned psychology by close observation of the bartender at the water hole around the corner from the office) have been saying for years that Mr. Williams has a complex. They watch him with honest pity as he gropes his way through the shadowland between .340 and .406. They agree with a sigh that he is the strongest left-hand-hitting neurotic they have ever seen.

A few weeks ago Thomas A. Yawkey, the Red Sox owner, took cognizance of Ted’s condition and tried the cure I spoke of above. It is a form of shock treatment. The subject is pelted softly but firmly with handfuls of green banknotes in large denominations. The size of the dose varies with the individual. Mr. Yawkey might still be showering his patient with engravings of General Grant had not Williams, rising from the couch when the total reached $125,000, remarked, by way of small talk, that he was satisfied.

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.”


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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver