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Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, and the Boston Red Sox

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  • Brian McKenna
    replied
    Originally posted by oscargamblesfro

    good points:
    1.the charity work, which is indisputably a point in the guy's favor.
    2. the fact that he renewed enthusiasm for the game in a city that is one of baseball's hotbeds, a city that had had 2 awful teams for a long time. i mean, have you ever looked closely at the boston franchises in the 20's ? they are hideous! the braves at least had occasional stars passing through like sisler and hornsby. some years, the red sox' best players included hacks like phil todt! any list of the worst clubs ever has to include some 20's/ early 30'ssox teams, they had FIFTEEN straight losing years prior to that. i'm kinda surprised that no team moved out of there till '52, especially the red sox. though yawkey's way of rebuilding the sox was a typical " rich kid" way of doing things ( not too dissimilar from ruppert , steinbrenner, etc.) keep in mind that yawkey came from $, and in fact an uncle was one of the tigers' 1st owners. he finally did authorize the construction of a farm system that did bring some of the great 40's players to the sox. and putting money into the team and to get good players is a plus for the guy.
    3. rebuilding fenway in the 30's
    4. yawkey was generally and genuinely beloved by most of his players, and was one of the more generous owners of his time. definitely not a cheapskate.

    .
    Yawkey purchased the team within a week after he received his inheritance in 1933. Spent $1M for the club, $1.5M on renovations and, then, another million to buy Lefty Grove, Joe Cronin, Lyn Lary, Moose Solters, Bill Werber, George Pipgras, Rick Ferrell, Carl Reynolds, Wes Ferrell and Jimmie Foxx, among others. The franchise had been decimated over the previous 13 years.

    He loved the game - taking batting practice, hanging around the field and rubbing elbows with the players like a groupie. But I don't see how above points 2, 3 and 4 make him unique. Enthusiasm gets renewed whenever a team starts winning. That can happen anywhere. Fenway had to be refurbished sooner or later. Yawkey just had the $$ to do it during the Depression. Every baseball team, sooner or later, will have their stadium redone. The farm system was going to happen no matter who was head of the company. Every team gets good players from their system. It's no more a plus for Yawkey than anyone else. I don't think he was the lead scout. In fact, in recent memory I can only recall Charlie Finley who did much of his grunt work.

    Who cares if his players loved him? That doesn't make him any better than say Comiskey. Who cares if a bunch of guys who make a good deal more money than the Average Joe liked their boss? Ballplayers have always had their butts kissed from the moment they started showing some talent. Maybe Yawkey was such an easy touch because he never had to work for his money. Many owners come from running other businesses; thus, learning their management skills in a different fashion. I think Yawkey eventually figured out he had to back away from the players and let the front office deal with them.

    With that said I wish Baltimore had had an owner who, for one, stuck around that long and who brought so much passion to the game.
    Last edited by Brian McKenna; 10-14-2005, 12:30 PM.

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  • 64Cards
    replied
    Very good analysis, Oscar. I remember reading in "Ball Four" where Bouton quoted one of the players saying something to the effect that Boston was the ultimate country club team to play for, if you hit .260 with 20 hr's you got a fat raise, same thing if you were a medicore pitcher. They didn't start turning things around till Dick williams came there in 67 and kicked some ass.

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  • oscargamblesfro
    replied
    i think ultimately yawkey left a mixed legacy, with good points and bad. part of the reason he's in the hall, a big part, is the 43 years as a team owner, the fact that he was a well- liked guy, the charity, and cronyism. in boston, the regard for the yawkey legacy has greatly changed, especially since the family sold the team a few years back.

    good points:
    1.the charity work, which is indisputably a point in the guy's favor.
    2. the fact that he renewed enthusiasm for the game in a city that is one of baseball's hotbeds, a city that had had 2 awful teams for a long time. i mean, have you ever looked closely at the boston franchises in the 20's ? they are hideous! the braves at least had occasional stars passing through like sisler and hornsby. some years, the red sox' best players included hacks like phil todt! any list of the worst clubs ever has to include some 20's/ early 30'ssox teams, they had FIFTEEN straight losing years prior to that. i'm kinda surprised that no team moved out of there till '52, especially the red sox. though yawkey's way of rebuilding the sox was a typical " rich kid" way of doing things ( not too dissimilar from ruppert , steinbrenner, etc.) keep in mind that yawkey came from $, and in fact an uncle was one of the tigers' 1st owners. he finally did authorize the construction of a farm system that did bring some of the great 40's players to the sox. and putting money into the team and to get good players is a plus for the guy.
    3. rebuilding fenway in the 30's
    4. yawkey was generally and genuinely beloved by most of his players, and was one of the more generous owners of his time. definitely not a cheapskate.


    bad points
    1. obviously the racism.
    2. the use of an old boy network that produced horrors like higgins, and hiring billy herman to be manager simply because herman had been one of his favorite players.
    3. the same generosity also led to a country club atmosphere in the time between the great teams of the 40's until the 67 club with dick williams. oftentimes, hard decisions about personnel weren't made.
    4. favoritism, especially with yaz.
    5. immediately after his death, the club was ruled by his widow, haywood sullivan, and buddy leroux, who tried to run the team on the cheap, signing no significant free agents for years after bill campbell and torrez, drove the good pitchers out of town, including the icon tiant, jenkins, lee, etc because they weren't conservative apple pie types, and interfered with the day to day (on the field) operations of the club, and NUMEROUS other mistakes.
    .

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  • 64Cards
    replied
    Yawkey, as the owner, has be the person ultimately responsible for the Bosox reluctance to integrate. Now in the late 40's they had a hell of a team, if they had won the last game of the season in 48 & 49, they would have won 3 pennants in 4 years, so maybe they felt there was no reason to upset the apple cart, so to speak. Plus the Yanks weren't adding any black players either [but they had a much deeper and stronger farm system.] Yawkey should have instructed his GM, farm director or whomever in the early 50's to go out and sign some black players and get a leg up on the Yanks.

    Yawkey making the HOF is a total mystery to me. I've heard he was a terrific guy, a lot of fun to sit around and drink with. But in all of his years owning the Sox, they made a grand total of 3 trips to the WS and as mentioned, they were the last team to integrate. I know he was born in South Carolina around the turn of the century, so regarding intergration his attitude was no different than virtually everyone he grew up with, not to mention a hell of a lot of others in the supposedly more enlightened North. But still, he could have done the right thing, whether it be for competitive reason or because it was the fair thing to do.

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  • Steve Jeltz
    replied
    Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules
    Can imagine Williams, Robinson, and Mays all on the same team?
    Also imagine Al Kaline, Carl Yastrzemski and Hank Aaron in the same outfield. This could have been the Phillies starting outfield in the late 1950's and 1960's.

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  • Honus Wagner Rules
    replied
    Can imagine Williams, Robinson, and Mays all on the same team?

    Leave a comment:


  • Honus Wagner Rules
    replied
    Originally posted by Barnstormer
    Boston does seem to have a peculiar history of race and sports, at least in baseball and basketball. While the Sox were the last to integrate, the Celtics were the first team to draft an African-American player (Chuck Cooper). The Celtics also had the first black coach, but then I also remember the oddly white teams of the mid-80s (Bird, McHale, Ainge, Walton). Not sure what to make of it all.
    I think the 1980s Celtics were just random chance. Bird, McHale, and Ainge were all all-star caliber players. It's not as if they played in front of more deserving African-American players. Plus, Dennis Johnson and Robert Parrish were also key members of those 1980s championship teams.
    Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 10-13-2005, 02:38 PM.

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  • oscargamblesfro
    replied
    Originally posted by bkmckenna
    I shouldn't have implied otherwise - the problems are prevalent throughout the United States.

    it's cool...

    Leave a comment:


  • Brian McKenna
    replied
    Originally posted by oscargamblesfro
    there are bad racial problems in boston, which are tied in with class, and which in turn are also handdowns from lesser, but still potent prejudices inflicted on irish and italian groups for their religion and for being immigrants. i know this as well as any poster on this board, probably more so with the busing problems of the 70's that i experienced as a young kid. there is a lot of subtle racism and segregation there to this day. no one in their right mind would deny that. my fiancee is black and native american, and while we got rude stares in boston, some of the other places we've been have been [I]a lot worse. i would highly caution anyone about the old adage about sticks and glass houses.
    I shouldn't have implied otherwise - the problems are prevalent throughout the United States.

    Leave a comment:


  • Barnstormer
    replied
    Boston does seem to have a peculiar history of race and sports, at least in baseball and basketball. While the Sox were the last to integrate, the Celtics were the first team to draft an African-American player (Chuck Cooper). The Celtics also had the first black coach, but then I also remember the oddly white teams of the mid-80s (Bird, McHale, Ainge, Walton). Not sure what to make of it all.

    Leave a comment:


  • iPod
    replied
    No, I agree; it was Eddie Collins, Joe Cronin, and Pinky Higgins all working together. Yawkey himself I think had little to do with it. But Higgins was the worst. If he hadn't gotten fired, who knows how long the Sox would have stayed segregated?

    The "get those ******* off the field," remark was probably made by either Cronin or Collins, although some people think Yawkey himself said it.

    There's a book all about this, "Shut Out" by Howard Bryant. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who's really interested in the history of integration in the majors, focused around the Sox specifically.

    Page 52 of that book; "As a final act in the spring of 1959, he [Higgins] had sent Pumpsie Green back to the minors in a spiteful, last-second gesture. The Red Sox struggled early in the season with poor infield play, and Larry Claflin, a columnist for the Boston Record American, asked Higgins if he would bolster the infield by recalling Green, who, in the minors, was hitting over .300 and playing solid defense. Higgins responded by calling Claflin a '****** lover' and spit tobacco juice on him."

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  • oscargamblesfro
    replied
    that yawkey, higgins, and apparently collins were racists is inexcusable, despicable, and a matter of history. it is a shame that my hometown's team was the last to integrate. yet to say " the town of boston really" is what is known as a generalization. i for one do not believe that this matter was only a problem there and not in new york, philly, st. louis, or any other city. i highly doubt that baltimore is any more of a paragon of racial tolerance. as for no negro league teams, i really don't know why there weren't any: that may be due to the fact that boston has a small black population. i have no idea.

    there are bad racial problems in boston, which are tied in with class, and which in turn are also handdowns from lesser, but still potent prejudices inflicted on irish and italian groups for their religion and for being immigrants. i know this as well as any poster on this board, probably more so with the busing problems of the 70's that i experienced as a young kid. there is a lot of subtle racism and segregation there to this day. no one in their right mind would deny that. my fiancee is black and native american, and while we got rude stares in boston, some of the other places we've been have been [I]a lot worse. i would highly caution anyone about the old adage about sticks and glass houses.

    Leave a comment:


  • Brian McKenna
    replied
    I think a community ties itself to a ballclub and that ballclub intertwines itself into the community. There is a lot of back scratching both ways and the $$ flow all around, much of which is rarely if ever publicized. Considering this, any owner would be an integral member of the community - whatever the semantics of the term community leader.

    Leave a comment:


  • oscargamblesfro
    replied
    well, at any rate, i would hardly call him "a community leader"- he spent much of his time in south carolina or someplace like that, and despite all of the jimmy fund stuff, which is laudable wasn't exactly engaged in the everyday issues here... he also wasn't from boston.

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  • Brian McKenna
    replied
    Many would say that Yawkey's was the worst

    because he had the $$$$$$$$$ and the power and he was THE community leader.

    Leave a comment:

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