Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Red Sox are Racist

This is a site dedicated to simply outlining the Red Sox and their fan base as the most offensively racist establishment in sports. We can start in 1945.

The Red Sox, after a liberal media member threatened to vote against their weekly permit to play on Sundays, were strong-armed into holding a tryout for black players. This gave them an opportunity to acquire Kansas City Monarchs shortstop Jackie Robinson. But a number of racist circumstances surrounded the tryout, according to the Massachusetts Historical Review.

"The Red Sox had reluctantly agreed to hold a tryout for African American ballplayers. Shortstop Jackie Robinson of the Kansas City Monarchs, second baseman Marvin Williams of the Philadelphia Stars, and outfielder Sam Jethroe of the Cleveland Buckeyes had come to Boston nearly a week earlier in anticipation of the session...The audition of the three players took a little over one year to arrange and lasted only ninety minutes."

A whole year to arrange a 90 minute tryout. This was after it had already been canceled once for unclear reasons. Very surprising that it didn't last very long. And of course the result was that Jackie Robinson, eventual Hall of Famer, was turned down by the organization. Maybe they didn't predict him having a high ceiling. Rumors even say the tryout concluded with someone saying "Get those niggers off the field."

But fine, it was 1945 — no team had de-segregated yet.

Fast forward 13 years later, to 1958. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier 11 prior, and had since retired. Every major league team had integrated...except the Red Sox. Their excuse? From the mouth of Tom Yawkey:

"The Red Sox will bring up a Negro when he meets our standards."

This comment was made regarding Pumpsie Green (right), who had been established as a player clearly ready for the major leagues. But Yawkey's standards were higher than that:

Boston's increasingly cooperative local press corps never asked Yawkey to explain those standards, nor did it question why the Red Sox failed to trade for an African American player or hire an African American in any capacity...Others on Yawkey's staff claimed they could not find any African American prospects. Such attitudes apparently did not trouble Yawkey, for they all retained their positions.

Yawkey's standards? Lighter skin.

For those unaware of Tom Yawkey, he was the owner of the Boston Red Sox from 1933 to 1977.
In 1967, again according to the Massachussetts History Review, Jackie Robinson said this regarding the 1967 World Series:

"Because of Boston owner Tom Yawkey, I'd like to see [the Red Sox] lose, because he is probably one of the most bigoted guys in baseball."

Fenway Park now sits on Yawkey Way.

One would think that as pre-segregated baseball members died out, so would the prevalent racism of the Red Sox. Not so. According to Howard Bryant's book Shutout, the franchise was engaging in segregated events as late as 1980. In the spring training of that year, a black Red Sox coach named Tommy Harper was excluded from an organized event at the Elks Club, a private club that gave invitations to all the white and only the white players on the Red Sox. This had been standard practice on the Red Sox club for years. An Elks Club member, according to Michael Madden of the Boston Globe, explained the absence of blacks at the club the team happily patronized:

"Simple," he said. "Because we don't allow niggers in here."

Author Howard Bryant called the team "segregated with the blessings of management."

The most disturbing part of all this is the tendency of this scary practice and attitude to seep into the fanbase. Not surprisingly, "Red Sox Nation" contains virtually no black people, as this picture of a typical Fenway crowd exemplifies:

But the racism in the fanbase goes much further than that, and to this day multiple accounts exist of racial heckling coming from the stands at Fenway. Boston writer William B. Gould recalls this memory from years ago at Fenway:

"A fan taunted Red Sox first baseman George Scott as a ''slave" and virtually all in attendance, including myself, sat silent."

So a Red Sox fan taunted his own first baseman George Scott by shouting racial slurs, and nobody in the stands contested. And this in a supposedly racially tolerant society? Despicable.

Isolated incident? No, at least according to Gary Matthews Jr., who this very season made special note of the "special" heckles he regularly has the privilege of hearing in Fenway Park. Speaking to reporters about playing in Fenway Park and about the fans there, he said :

"They're loud, they're drunk, they're obnoxious," Matthews told a cluster of reporters, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

"They're one of the few places you'll hear racial comments . . . it's just different."

To this very day, the Red Sox Nation, which will enthusiastically elect a president soon, resorts to racial slurs to taunt opposing players. It is depressing that in today's modern world such bigotry exists in such a large and proud group of people. Fenway Park should not be celebrated as hallowed baseball ground — it should be condemned as a symbol of the vast racial prejudice that its baseball club celebrated for decades and its fans continue to embrace.