Yawkey Way is officially no more after Boston’s Public Service Commission unanimously voted to change the street, home of the Boston Red Sox, back to Jersey Street on Thursday morning.
The unanimous vote is the conclusion of a multi-year fight to change the name of the street named after former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, known more for his racist past than anything he did as the team’s owner from 1933 to ’76.
This most recent (and successful) effort, however, was led by Red Sox principal owner John Henry, who last year said that he was ‘haunted’ by Yawkey’s troubling history.
“The Red Sox don’t control the naming or renaming of streets,” Henry said in an email last summer. “But for me, personally, the street name has always been a consistent reminder that it is our job to ensure the Red Sox are not just multi-cultural, but stand for as many of the right things in our community as we can — particularly in our African-American community and in the Dominican community that has embraced us so fully. The Red Sox Foundation and other organizations the Sox created such as Home Base have accomplished a lot over the last 15 years, but I am still haunted by what went on here a long time before we arrived.”
Under Yawkey’s ownership, the Red Sox made unfortunate history as the last team in Major League Baseball to integrate an African-American player on their roster, as Pumpsie Green played for the Sox a whopping 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Yawkey, of course, infamously passed on signing Robinson when given the chance back in 1945.
Those that opposed the name change, particularly those still working for the Yawkey Foundation, argued that the name change would ‘taint the legacy’ of the foundation’s charitable work.
Yawkey Way was known as Jersey Street up until 1977.