Keep Yawkey Way So We Don’t Forget His Mistakes

Calls to tear down Confederate monuments are making headlines throughout the United States. Violence in Charlottesville has brought attention to our nation’s history that leave many divided. Personally, I think most of them should come down and be placed in museums. Racists erected them to intimidate African Americans, and they represent nothing but treason and oppression. Calls to rename other parks and streets that bare the names of ambiguous persons of history echo those same demands. One of those demands includes renaming Yawkey Way. While I think Confederate monuments should come down, I think they should keep Yawkey Way the way it is.

Yawkey Way was named after Tom Yawkey, the owner of the Boston Red Sox from 1933keep yawkey way to 1976. Many remember Yawkey as a racist. During his reign, the Boston Red Sox were the last team to integrate when Pumpsie Green took the field in 1959. Before then, the Red Sox had chances to sign players like Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, and Sam Jethroe, all Rookies of the Year. Additionally, he employed Mike “Pinky” Higgins, a manager who made no effort to keep his distain for African Americans a secret. Higgins is the primary reason why the Red Sox didn’t integrate for years. Yawkey not only kept Higgins around, but he even promoted him through the years. Unlike owners like Branch Rickey and Bill Veeck, Yawkey chose to play along with the rest of the owners in baseball and drag their feet before integrating their teams. That will always be a part of his reputation and deservedly so.

Keep Yawkey Way So We Don’t Forget, and Repeat, The Past

Going back to my introduction, Confederate monuments need to come down because they represent a time in our nation’s history when traitors tried to tear this country apart. For many years after the war ended, its sympathizers tried to retain the honor of the south by erecting monuments, partly so they could continue terrorizing and intimidating African Americans who they’d oppressed for years. Many of these Confederate monuments were built specifically and deliberately to push back against integration and Civil Rights. That’s why they now need to come down. In fact, Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate forces, discouraged monuments. He thought they “keep open the sores of war” (Boy was he right).

Was Yawkey Way given its name for the same reasons? Of course not. Yawkey Way was named to honor Tom Yawkey, not to intimidate African Americans from coming to Fenway Park.

Keep Yawkey Way To Hold Yawkey’s Legacy Responsible

Yawkey Way bares the name of an owner responsible for modernizing Fenway Park. He played an important role in the history of the Red Sox and in baseball. Many ballplayers, black and white, remember him as being a very generous and approachable man. Deep down, he probably didn’t harbor racist sentiments as intense as Higgins’. However, he’s still responsible for that racist legacy. He could have done what Rickey and Veeck did and integrate the Red Sox before any other team. But he didn’t.

So instead of letting Yawkey and the Red Sox off the hook, the team needs to keep Yawkey Way. Of course, the current ownership doesn’t hold the same views Yawkey did, but they chose to buy the team and its dark legacy comes with that. They don’t get to “erase” that. It would also enable people to forget about the terrible mistakes Tom Yawkey made. Instead of erasing that history, the Red Sox should use this opportunity not only to remember a dark past, but take efforts to ensure they don’t go down similar paths.

Keep Yawkey Way To Ensure We Don’t Forget

There is no easy solution here. People will remain angry no matter what’s done. But let’s keep things in perspective here. This publication, which also bears the Yawkey name, looks to a future that includes equality and opportunity for everyone. To rename the street would jeopardize those efforts to craft a better future. Personally, I write for Yawkey Way Report because I want to help create a future with more equal opportunities so that everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. have a chance to thrive, whether it’s in baseball or in other aspects of life. Renaming Yawkey Way would indirectly disrupt those efforts because those involved would have to start from scratch to associate itself with a new title. That takes time, and frankly, I don’t see how that’s a better approach. That’s like tearing down an entire house just because the kitchen is unstable.

So instead of looking at Yawkey Way as a symbol of racism, look to it as a symbol of change. Tom Yawkey, while he could have done much more, tried to change his views for the better. Does that excuse his behavior? No. But renaming a street isn’t a zero sum solution and it never will be. We need to take the good with the bad. We can remember Tom Yawkey as an innovative owner while also holding his legacy responsible for its reprehensible actions. To change the name of Yawkey Way would be to erase and rewrite a history that, despite its darkness, is important to remember so we do not repeat it.

War Hero Ted Williams Fought For Our Freedoms

Most people are outraged that neo-nazis and white supremacists are trying to make a comeback. My great-uncle fought nazis. He didn’t risk his life just to see these weak-minded a$$hats walk the streets thinking they’re superior to everyone else. In fact, it does a grave dishonor to those baseball players who volunteered to fight in World War II. War Hero Ted Williams, along with Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, and many others exchanged a bat for a gun to defend America. These whites supremacists dishonor every American who fought the Axis powers in World War II.

The game of baseball itself has survived multiple wars and conflicts. President Franklin D.war hero ted williams Roosevelt urged Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to continue to the game despite the war. “I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going,” Roosevelt wrote to Landis. “There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before. And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.”

Roosevelt was right. More than ever American civilians had to make sacrifices in ways they’d never imagined. Commodities became scarce. Blackouts threw cities into darkness in the event that nazi or Japanese bombers made it to the continental United States. Most importantly, 400,000 Americans gave their lives to defeat Hitler and the Axis powers. All American stepped up to defeat defeating Hitler.

War Hero Ted Williams, And Many Others, Sacrificed Their Best Years

Players like the Tigers’ Hank Greenberg, the Braves’ Warren Spahn, and the Indians’ Bob Feller signed up for service. Spahn saw combat at the Battle of the Bulge. Feller fought on battleships in the Pacific. Williams didn’t see combat, but he gave up three of his best career years to serve his country. In fact, according to bleacherreport.com, Williams would have hit .342 with 3,452 hits, 663 home runs and 2,380 RBI if he hadn’t missed five years (two more in Korea) to wartime service. He not only gave up those career years, he did so willingly to defend our nation.

Service To Country Was More Important

According to the same source, Feller would have retired with a 362-210 record, a 3.11 ERA and 3,565 strikeouts. Spahn would have had over 400 career wins. But it wasn’t about projected numbers and sacrificing career years. It was about serving their country and doing what’s right. When the war broke out, Feller volunteered for service, “I didn’t have to [fight],” Fellar said in a 2006 interview. “I was 23 and strong-bodied…but with my father terminally ill back in Van Meter, Iowa, I was exempt from military service…It didn’t matter to me. I wanted to join the fight against Hitler and the Japanese.”

White Supremacy Dishonors War Hero Ted Williams And All Those Who Sacrificed

To watch what happened in Charlottesville last weekend could make one wonder what year it is. 1941 or 2017? Those white supremacists, who likely had relatives that fought in World War II, carried the flag that represented the very evil their relatives gave their lives for. Baseball players like Williams risked their lives because Hitler went to war in an effort to force the world to subscribe to his belief system. He lost, but there are those who want to continue the fight.

Unfortunately, these same scumbag white supremacists want to hold a rally in Boston this weekend. I gave serious thought to going to the counter-protest as a way of showing them I don’t want them here. Then I thought about it a little more. As much as I hate nazis, white supremacists, or anyone else who thinks they’re better than others because of the color of one’s skin, I’m not going to give them the pleasure. It’s exactly what these vermin want. So instead of attending a counter protest, I’m going to do the very things that war hero Ted Williams and many others risk their lives in order for me to do. It’s because of servicepeople like Williams, Feller, and Spahn that I can choose to attend a rally or not. So instead of giving attention to nazis, I’m going to do something else. Watch baseball.

Baseball Is Freedom

I’m going to watch the Red Sox destroy the Yankees at Fenway Park. I’ll watch Andrew Benintendi hit more home runs. I’ll watch Chris Sale strike out fourteen Yankees. I’m going to hang out with my friend Anthony, and we’re going to drink a lot of beer. And we’re going to do it under the retired number 9, war hero Ted Williams’ number, the man who served his country so that people like me could have the freedom so many take for granted.

Watching baseball is freedom. We proudly sing the National Anthem before each ballgame. We root for who we want. While it may not look like it, watching baseball instead of engaging white supremacists at a rally is a form of pushing them back. Baseball is freedom. When people think of freedom many think of baseball. While I’d love nothing more than to punch every nazi in the face 247,000 times each, I’m going to live by President Roosevelt’s words, “[Americans] ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work.” In my case, I’m taking my mind off of white supremacy; I’m taking my attention away from them.

That’s what they want and they won’t get it from me.

Your Guide to Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown

The Baseball Hall of Fame will induct five new members on Sunday, July 30th, 2017 in Cooperstown, New York. The festivities are set to begin on July 28th and run through the 31st. Like the All-Star game and the World Series, Hall of Fame Induction Weekend is something every baseball fan looks forward to each year. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are planning on attending the festivities.

Finding Parking Is Tough

Parking is going to be tough. Cooperstown has a population of about 2,500 people. LastBaseball Hall year about 45-50,000 people came to see Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. get inducted. You do the math. So if you are planning on coming it’s best to get into town early enough to find a spot. By early I mean 6am if you want to get a good spot. The later you are the farther you’ll have to walk from where you parked. We’re talking miles.

Finding A Hotel Is Even Tougher

Hotel and accommodations. If you didn’t book a reservation the week after last year’s induction weekend ended then you’re not going to find anything close to town. I booked a room seven miles outside of town the week after last year. Two months later they cancelled on me. By that time I had to look elsewhere and the best I could find was something 45 minutes away. That was in August. That’s how fast it fills up.

But Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend Is Worth It!

If you venture to Cooperstown for the weekend you won’t regret it. Every year there’s about three dozen or so Hall of Famers who do autograph shows throughout town. Prices vary but they’re not too expensive, depending on who you want. Dennis Eckersley, Pete Rose, and Goose Gossage will run you about $40-60 for a signed ball. Others like Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson demand up to $300 for a single autograph. If you Google “autograph signings Cooperstown 2017” you’ll find a list of companies sponsoring these signings. They list their prices and sell tickets in advance. I’ve already purchased about eight so I won’t have to stand in line as long. I suggest you do the same.

Non-Baseball Hall of Famers Are The Highlight

Last year as I walked down Main Street I met former Negro Leaguers, old ladies who played in the All-American Girls Professional League in the 1940s, and former MLBers who didn’t quite have the numbers to get inducted. THESE people are the ones you want to stop and talk to. In addition to charging very little (if at all) for their autograph (maybe $10 at the most), they tell the best stories. The original Frank Thomas, who played for the Mets in their first year in 1962, loves chatting with fans. Pedro Sierra, who played in the Negro Leagues in the early 1950s, signed a ball for me in the most beautiful handwriting I’ve ever seen on a baseball. George Foster, the NL MVP in 1977, has a great sense of humor. These are the people you want to seek out and talk to. They’ll chat with you all day!

In addition to the Baseball Hall of Fame itself, check out the many stores open all weekend. You’ll see a lot of junk but you’ll also see a lot of neat things. Yastrzemski Sports in the center of town has a treasure trove of baseball cards old and new. Across the street is Mickey’s, another great spot if you need a good baseball cap. And don’t forget the great places to eat up and down Main Street.

See you there! (Don’t forget sunscreen!)

Pete Rose Denied Induction Into Hall of Fame For Final Time

Pete Rose, the all-time hits king at 4256, was denied eligibility for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame for likely the final time. Many applauded the decision handed down by the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors. In their mind, Rose accepted, and must abide by, a lifetime ban he received in 1989. Others say it’s too stringent. With Pete Rose denied induction into the Hall of Fame for likely the final time, baseball fans will surely become more divided over the issue.

Then-commissioner Bart Giamatti banned Rose in 1989 for placing betts on baseballPete Rose Denied Induction games. Rose denied any involvement in gambling for many years before finally admitting it in 2004. Despite his confession, which he thought would exonerate him, the path to Hall of Fame induction only narrowed. In fact, it’s Rule 3(E) that continues to block Rose’s path to Cooperstown. The Baseball Writers Association of America election rules state that anyone who is permanently ineligible by Major League Baseball may not be considered for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This is the rule the Board of Directors cited in their decision to shut the door forever on Rose’s induction.

But is the Board of Directors being too stingy? Yup!

It’s Hypocritical To Deny Rose Induction

There’s no denying Rose gambled on baseball. It’s a crappy thing to do. Some say it’s no big deal but keep something in mind. You’re profiting off the hard work of your teammates. Then there’s the whole being illegal thing. But if the writers inducted Rose into the Hall of Fame then he would be in good company. Legendary New York Giants manager John McGraw allegedly threw games after the Giants were eliminated from the playoffs. Rumors about Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker’s connections to gamblers continue to this day.

Then there’s Hall of Famer John Clarkson. Clarkson won 50 games in 1885 (Yes, you read right) for the Chicago White Stockings. He’s in the Hall of Fame despite the fact that he murdered his wife with a razor. Let’s not forget Cap Anson and Kenesaw Mountain Landis, two more inductees who are directly responsible for introducing, and maintaining, respectively, segregation in baseball. So we can let other gamblers in, along with murderers and bigots, but not Pete Rose? That’s definitely a double standard.

Pete Rose Denied Induction For Final Time

Seeing Pete Rose denied induction is disappointing. It’s also somewhat hypocritical. Of course, Rose is no saint. But there are very few in the Hall of Fame whose character can’t questioned (Brooks Robinson comes to mind). This isn’t to dismiss what Rose did. But 25 years is enough.

Let Rose into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Hawking Autographs Hurts Baseball’s Integrity

I’m a member of a Facebook group called Autographs 101. Members give advice and judge the authenticity of signatures. One of the things I love about the group is that its members truly love the game of baseball. Seeing someone proudly display pictures of hawking autographstheir grandfather’s Ted Williams autograph is exciting. One of things that really bothers me though is when someone shows of an autograph they got for free at a game and wants to sell it. Someone gets a baseball signed by Kris Bryant or David Ortiz, then posts a picture of it asking for an obscene amount. Hawking autographs for personal profit not only hurts the game’s integrity, but it’s a selfish thing to do.

I’d go to ballgames as a kid hoping I’d get a few autographs. Other teens and I would stand behind each other patiently waiting for the signatures of Brett Butler, Moises Alou, Pat Hentgen, and Andy Petite, who all signed for me. Nowadays though I see full grown men shoving kids away to get an autograph. Some ballparks now have a Kids Only section where they can get autographs.

These hawkers get hundreds for Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and David Ortiz. Knowing that fans are profiting off of them, some ballplayers now refuse to sign for adults. Others will sign a ball but won’t do it on the sweet spot because they know a fan won’t be able to get as much for it. Washington Nationals’ pitcher Max Scherzer is going an extra step to ensure fans aren’t hawking autographs. Scherzer set up a website where fans can buy his autograph with all the profits going directly to charity. This angers some fans who won’t be able to make a 100% anymore. They brought it on themselves though.

Hawking Autographs Ruins It For Other Fans

I attended the Hall of Fame Classic game last weekend in Cooperstown. Hundreds of fans stood behind a fence on the first base line waiting for Hall of Famers to come and sign. Most were little kids. But I saw many adults with 2×3 foot posters hoping that someone like Wade Boggs would sign it. How obnoxious do you have to be to not only take a kid’s place, but lug around something that large?

I attended the game with my buddy Angelo who told me a story about Alex Rodriguez. A few years ago, his brother stood outside the ballpark for A-Rod. Most of those who were waiting were little kids who A-Rod is apparently more than happy to sign for. But an overzealous fan almost ruined it for everyone when he handed a box of a dozen baseballs to A-Rod asking him to sign each one. “C’mon man, really?” A-Rod said to the guy. “I know what you’re going to do with those.” A-Rod ignored the guy and continued signing for the kids. The guy got nothing, and deservedly so.

I collect autographs myself. I mail baseball cards to former players, and pay a fee to meet them in Cooperstown. One thing I won’t do is push kids aside. If you think that’s okay then you need to get a life.

These Baseball Records Will Never Be Broken

Baseball records fall almost every season. Most of them are obscure and don’t get much attention. Former Atlanta Braves second baseman Mark Lemke holds the record for most plate appearances (3664) without being hit by a pitch. Hall of Famer Hughie Jennings holds the record for most hit-by-pitches (287). While these records are interesting, they’re not the kind that players set out to break. There are some baseball records, however, that will never be broken. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Cal Ripken Jr.’s Consecutive Game Streak

Cal Ripken Jr. made history on September 6, 1995 when he passed Lou Gehrig’sbaseball records consecutive games-played streak of 2130. That’s 2130 straight games that Ripken didn’t miss despite broken bones and sprains. With the clauses and stipulations in contracts nowadays, you’ll never see another player come close to breaking this record.

Cy Young’s Record of 511 Wins

Cy Young holds the record for most wins, and losses, for a pitcher at 511-316. Young played for 21 years during a time when relief pitching was rare and a pitcher threw all nine innings. Nowadays it’s a monumental feat if a pitcher wins 300 games in his career.

Joe DiMaggio’s 56-Game Hitting Streak

This is a record historians and Yankee fans stubbornly defend as one that’ll never fall. In 1941, DiMaggio hit safely in 56 games. Since then, Pete Rose is the only player to come close to breaking that record with a 44-game streak in 1978. Many players have reached the 20 and 30 game plateau. With modern technology utilized by almost every pitcher to analyze opposing batting stances, it’s likely no player will ever surpass DiMaggio.

Ty Cobb’s .366 Lifetime Batting Average

The best players today can barely reach this average in a season. So the idea of a player coming anywhere close to breaking Cobb’s lifetime batting average record is nonexistent. Cobb batted over .400 three times and won nine consecutive batting titles. He’s also only one of two players with more than 4,000 hits in his career. Like a pitcher winning 300 games, getting 3,000 hits is hard enough. To accumulate enough hits to pass Cobb’s .366 average will never happen. This is one of those baseball records that players will find difficult to come within 50 points of reaching.

Batting Records Aren’t What They Used To Be

Technological advancements are putting a dent in the pursuit of records. Pitchers and hitters now have hundreds of different types of media they can analyze to gain an advantage over their opponents. Medical advances are prolonging baseball careers, but they’re also revealing flaws in practices that pitchers and hitters have relied on for years. Whereas it was once common for pitchers to throw all nine innings and go past 150 pitches, it is now proving detrimental to their arms.

Better designed base gloves also play a role in setting and breaking baseball records. For example, Ty Cobb holds the American League record with the most errors by an outfielder with 271. Those errors account for a lot of base hits. But baseball has seen a huge drop in errors by outfielders now that gloves are better designed with a wider net and stronger grip.

While the records listed above will likely remain standing for years to come, baseball could use a shot in the arm in the form of their pursuit. Ripken’s pursuit of Gehrig’s record excited baseball fans in the wake of the 1994 strike. It brought fans back to the ballpark. While attendance isn’t an issue right now, seeing someone like Mike Trout pursue Barry Bonds’ single season HR record would make the game even more exciting to watch.