Outside of Fenway Park is Yawkey Way, a street where Red Sox fans congregate before and after every home game. Yawkey Way is named after former team owner Tom Yawkey, a Baseball Hall of Famer who owned the team from 1933 until his death in 1976. Yawkey was accused of being a racist during his tenure as the team’s owner because of how long it took the Red Sox to employ a black player (1959, making them the last team in the majors to integrate).
Current Red Sox owner John Henry wants to make a change. Henry said to the Boston Herald on Thursday that the club would lead the charge to rename Yawkey Way.
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.
But Henry just can’t snap his fingers and make the change – the city of Boston will need to make the change after an official petition from the Red Sox and the one other abutter of the road.
That might not be too difficult – there are only two abutters on Yawkey Way, and the other one is receptive to the viewpoint of Henry and the Red Sox.
Of the six parcels with Yawkey Way addresses, there are only two abutters: Henry’s Red Sox and the D’Angelo family, owners of ‘47 Brand and the merchandise shops across the street from Fenway.
The D’Angelos are on board with a name change.
“I understand the way the climate is around the Red Sox that they would potentially want to do something like that,” said Bobby D’Angelo, son of the formerly named Twins souvenir shop’s founder Arthur D’Angelo.
D’Angelo, who spoke before Henry said he welcomed a name change, said re-naming the street would “not be a big deal at all.”
Henry also claimed that the team’s employees reached a consensus regarding a name change.
““We ought to be able to lead the effort and if others in the community favor a change, we would welcome it – particularly in light of the country’s current leadership stance with regard to intolerance,” Henry said.
Racial issues at Fenway Park have been a hot button topic this season following Adam Jones’ claims that fans yelled racial slurs at him during a Red Sox-Orioles game in May.
As for a potential new name for the street, Henry had a pair of suggestions: David Ortiz Way or Big Papi Way. Maybe that will help soften the blow to some of those who will inevitably be upset about a potential name change.