Yawkey Way is one of the most historic and notable pieces of the entire Fenway Park Experience, but that might all come to an end very soon if John Henry has his way. Check out this excerpt from The Boston Herald earlier today.
Red Sox principal owner John Henry, saying he’s still “haunted” by the racist legacy of his legendary predecessor Tom Yawkey, told the Herald that his franchise welcomes renaming Yawkey Way. The Sox, he said, should take the lead in the process of rebranding the Jersey Street extension outside Fenway Park that was renamed to honor the former owner in 1977.
Yawkey’s legacy as owner from 1933 to 1976, and then by his widow Jean Yawkey and the Yawkey Trust until Henry bought the team in 2002, was as complicated as it was lengthy.
An inescapable, significant and enduring part of the Yawkey legacy is a racist one, and Yawkey -- a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame -- oversaw the 12 year-stretch from 1947 to 1959 in which the Red Sox watched every other team in Major League Baseball integrate before they became the last club to do so. That residue will not disappear when Yawkey Way is renamed, but it also does not need to diminish the positive impact the Yawkey Trust, funded primarily by the $700 million sale of the team when Henry came aboard, still makes today for multiple worthy causes in Boston and New England.
The first thing you need to address when thinking about this story is the fact that the name of a street is just a name. Yawkey was somebody who was not a great person, and they are just changing the name.
The second thing you need to consider is the people who this will be impacting, and how they will NOT respond to this well. A city built on tradition, Boston already has a bad wrap for being the Adam Jones incident and numerous others like it.
Now, finally, you have to consider what both of these things mean in relation to each other. There will be pushback, and then there will be labels thrown around about the people of Boston, and then there will be ultimately an unhappy fanbase.
This makes you wonder WTF John Henry is thinking.