Sam Kennedy Leading Efforts To Rename Yawkey Way

The Boston Red Sox announced in August that they wanted Yawkey Way renamed. Their concern stems from a racist legacy left in the wake of Tom Yawkey’s ownership. As of today, a Boston Red Sox-themed Instagram page titled “bostonstrong_34” with a following of over 91,000 users posted that Red Sox President Sam Kennedy confirmed the team’s efforts to eventually change the street name. With Sam Kennedy leading the efforts to rename Yawkey Way, it’s clear that this change could come sooner than later.

In a book coming out on Yawkey titled Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox,sam kennedy leading author Bill Nowlin explores the man that very few know or understand. In an article published by prosportsdaily.com, Nowlin stated that “I never once found any evidence that Yawkey was personally racist. Nor did interviews with several dozen Sox players, including Pumpsie Green and Reggie Smith, turn up any such a suggestion. I looked for a smoking gun, and couldn’t find one.” That doesn’t mean he was without flaws. In an e-mail message to me, Nowlin elaborated, “He owned 100% of the team, and on 24 hours’ notice he could have ensured the Red Sox had an African American ballplayer. The facts show that the team was institutionally racist up until at least 1959 – though it’s also only fair to note that so was every newspaper in Boston, and many other institutions as well.”

I recently discussed this topic in an earlier post. I wrote that the Yawkey Way name should stay in place. While Tom Yawkey owned the Red Sox when they became the last team to integrate, I don’t believe Yawkey himself was a true racist. Of course, this does not excuse him from any blame or responsibility for the team’s legacy under his ownership. While Tom Yawkey wasn’t exactly a Civil Rights Leader, he wasn’t a racist. So while Yawkey bears the responsibility for the team’s racist history during his tenure as owner, it’s difficult to place him at the same level as the KKK as many are insinuating. With Sam Kennedy leading the charge on this move, I am disappointed because I don’t think he thought about this idea very thoroughly at all.

Sam Kennedy Leading A Dishonest And Very Flawed Effort

Yawkey wasn’t perfect; far from it. But he was also a very generous man who didn’t collect on loans he gave to his players, both black and white. To me, this suggests that he may have evolved in his views on race for the better.

To rename Yawkey Way is to suggest that people can’t change. What’s the point of educating others about the dangers of bigotry if we don’t recognize the effect it has? Do we continue to call someone a racist even if they eventually changed their views? What do the stories about how generous Yawkey was towards players say about him? It certainly doesn’t excuse him from any responsibility regarding the team’s stance on integration before 1959. But it’s also not a good excuse to rename Yawkey Way.

Kennedy wants to rename Yawkey Way for the wrong reasons. He wants a scapegoat that he thinks will alleviate the focus on the Red Sox messy record on integration. He is also exploiting a very serious issue in America. He’s trying to make the team look like they care about combating bigotry in America. While I don’t doubt his sincerity, I feel he would have made this move years ago if he felt this way.

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.

Can The Red Sox Reach The Post Season?

The Red Sox captured first place this summer and have hardly let go since. While the Yankees nip at their heels, Chris Sale’s arm and the rookies’ bats keep the Bronx Bombers at bay.  On top of that, the Red Sox are creeping closer to finding a groove in a post-Ortiz world. But despite their recent stretch of wins, can the Red Sox reach the post season?

Their Pitching Is (Almost) There

The Red Sox are definitely getting their money out of Chris Sale. He’s leading the AL inRed Sox reach wins, ERA, and strikeouts. He also pitches a fast game, which counts for a lot in an era where games last 3+ hours. Eduardo Rodriguez is almost healthy enough to begin carrying wins of his own. While he’s still young, his ability to accumulate seven or eight strikeouts a game is often overlooked. Drew Pomeranz came out of nowhere this year after a terrible debut season and already has double-digit wins. Joe Kelly can throw 100 MPH and serves as a good middle reliever. Craig Kimbrel always saves the game. David Price and Rick Porcello though? One’s a hot-head and the other is trying to stave off joining the 20-losses in a season club.

Their Rookies and Newcomers Will Help The Red Sox Reach The Post Season

Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers quickly dispelled any concerns they weren’t ready for the big leagues when they came up. Benintendi is a solid offensive as well as defensive guy. Devers is hitting home runs left and right. Eduardo Nunez seems to love playing in Boston. Even the veteran journeyman Chris Young can still make opposing pitchers shake in fear. Dustin Pedroia isn’t 100% (and may never be again) and Hanley Ramirez can’t quite lift his batting avert above .275. Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. still command the outfield as well as they can hit home runs. So will all this be enough to reach the post-season?

Yes.

Red Sox Rookies and Newcomers Carry The Team

The Red Sox rookies are posting some amazing debut numbers! Rookies Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, and veteran newcomer Eduardo Nunez are tearing up the American League. The arrival of the first two concerned people who thought they came too soon. While many of the Red Sox are on the disabled list or slumping at the plate, these Red Sox rookies are on fire.

Andrew Benintendi came up late in the 2016 season straight from Portland. Hered sox rookies bypassed AAA and quickly proved that he belonged in the MLB. He hasn’t left since. Benintendi hit .295 in 34 games with the Red Sox in 2016, including a home run in the ALDS against the Indians. He earned a place in left field too with his above average defensive skills. He’s also on pace for a 20+ home run season and should received the Rookie of the Year Award.

Rafael Devers has only played fifteen games as of August 15rd but he’s hitting .339 in 64 plate appearances, nothing to shrug off. He also hit six home runs in those fifteen games. On August 13th, Devers hit a home run that came in at 102.8 miles per hour off Aroldis Chapman. According to Statcast, Devers hit the fastest pitch-turned-home run recorded since experts started tracking such statistics in 2008. That’s impressive for anyone. For a 20-year old rookie though? It’s nothing short of amazing.

Veterans Add Their Own Clout Alongside Red Sox Rookies

Eduardo Nunez, who came to the Red Sox from the San Francisco Giants, contributes years of skill to Red Sox offense. A 2016 All-Star, Nunez comes as a boon to the Red Sox. In 68 plate appearances as of August 14th, Nunez has a .382 average with four home runs.

The Red Sox won’t reach the playoffs because of regular players. Dustin Pedroia or Hanley Ramirez will play a role but not a big one. That accolade should go to the these newcomers and acquired veterans.

Name Andrew Benintendi Rookie of the Year

Before the All-Star break, many thought Aaron Judge would coast to MVP and Rookie of the Year trophies. He broke Joe DiMaggio’s rookie home run record in just 82 days. He won the All-Star Home Run Derby. But then the All-Star break came and went. Now As of August 12th, Judge has a .182 average with only five home runs since the break. At this point it’s difficult to name him the Rookie of the Year. That’s why the powers that be should name Andrew Benintendi the American League Rookie of the Year.

Benintendi has maintained his pace of play all season and is only getting better. He blasted Name Andrew Benintenditwo home runs against the New York Yankees on August 12th. He also hit two home runs against the Texas Rangers on July 4th in a 5-for-5 day at the plate with with 6 RBI and double. That game ended in a 11-4 victory for the Red Sox. These numbers, while not as strong as Judge’s, still support the argument that he should be the Rookie of the Year.

Name Andrew Benintendi Alongside Fred Lynn As Two Rookie Greats

It’s hard for any die-hard Red Sox fan not to think of Fred Lynn when they watch Benintendi. Lynn had a MVP and Rookie of the Year-winning season in 1975 that also included a Gold Glove and All-Star appearance. Not to mention the Red Sox went onto the World Series that year.

But here’s why they should name Andrew Benintendi the Rookie of the Year. He’s maintained a consistent pace this year and it’s helped keep the Red Sox in first place. There isn’t much of a correlation between Aaron Judge’s hitting and the Yankees place in the AL East. The Yankees fell out of first long before Judge’s slump. But there’s been much more consistency with Benintendi. He’s also an amazing outfielder and base runner.

Judge isn’t going to recover from his slump anytime soon. Not to mention it would be very awkward if Judge for the RoY award after such a poor post-All-Star break. So name Andrew Benintendi the Rookie of the Year as he is the more deserving player.

Red Sox Winning Streak Reflects New Focus

The Red Sox winning streak of six games is debunking the idea that the team is still struggling from David Ortiz’s absence. Not only has the Price/Eckersley hoopla finally died down, but their rookies are coming alive too. This Red Sox winning streak is a sign that Boston will surely contend for the World Series title come October.

Rookies Contributing To Red Sox Winning Streak

The Red Sox struggled after the All-Star break and briefly relinquished first place to theRed Sox winning Yankees. Then a sweep of the Indians and White Sox not only moved them back into first place, but it also gave its rookie stars the attention they deserve. Between August 1st and 8th, Andrew Benintendi hit .462 with a home run effectively breaking out of his slump. Raphael Devers is hitting .349 in 49 plate appearances with three home runs as of August 7th. That comes after hitting 20 home runs in 86 games in AA and AAA this year.

Veterans Also Contributing To Red Sox Winning Streak

MLB veterans like Chris Young and Eduardo Nunez also showed Red Sox Nation that they still have plenty of steam left to help win. Young slammed two home runs, including a tie-breaking shot in addition to driving in five ribbies against the White Sox on Sunday. Nunez, a late season addition to the Red Sox, has 4 home runs with a .400 batting average in the nine games he’s played with Boston so far. These two play with a zeal that clearly reflects their love for the game.

The Red Sox rookies and veterans are playing baseball like kids on sandlot do. They’re eager to contribute. They play to win. And they know they can reach the World Series. Some say the remaining problem lies with its other veterans. Hanley Ramirez hits for power but not average. Dustin Pedroia landed on the DL again, as did David Price. If these three can capture some of the same enthusiasm as their younger and older teammates, the Red Sox will be unstoppable come October.