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Tom Yawkey
Yawkey in 1938
Born: Thomas Yawkey Austin
(1903-02-21)February 21, 1903
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Died: July 9, 1976(1976-07-09) (aged 73)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Member of the National
Baseball Hall of Fame
Election methodVeterans Committee

Thomas Austin Yawkey, born Thomas Yawkey Austin (February 21, 1903 – July 9, 1976) was an American industrialist and Major League Baseball executive. Born in Detroit, Yawkey became president of the Boston Red Sox in 1933 and was the sole owner of the team for 44 seasons until he died of leukemia. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Tommy Harper says Yawkey Red Sox fired him as coach because he called out racism
  • Segregated Sox (
  • Somerville Alibrandis - 2011 Yawkey Baseball League Champions


Early life

Yawkey, c. 1919

Yawkey was born in Detroit on February 21, 1903, to insurance executive Thomas J. Austin and his wife Augusta.[1][2] Augusta was the eldest child of William Clyman Yawkey, who had become wealthy in the lumber and iron ore industries of the Midwestern United States.[2] In addition to these interests, William Clyman Yawkey had agreed to buy the Detroit Tigers baseball team in 1903, but died before the deal closed.[2][3] His son, William H. "Bill" Yawkey, completed the purchase with Frank Navin in late 1903.[4][5]

When Yawkey was about six months old, his father died.[6] After his father's death, Yawkey and his mother moved to New York City to live with his uncle, William Yawkey. Throughout his life, Yawkey maintained a residence in New York City.[7][8] In September 1918, William adopted 15-year-old Tom after his mother died.[2][9] His last name was changed to Yawkey after the adoption.[2]

Bill Yawkey died in 1919 and left half of his $40 million (roughly $644 million in 2022) estate to Tom.[10][11] A clause in the will created two trusts that he gained access to at 25 and 30 years old. Yawkey graduated from the Irving School in Tarrytown, NY in 1920 and from the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University in 1925.[2] While at Yale, Yawkey was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.[12]

Boston Red Sox

Having met as alumni of the Irving School, Yawkey and Eddie Collins, a former Philadelphia Athletics second baseman, discussed purchasing a baseball team in 1933, when Yawkey was due to turn 30 and gain full access to his fortune.[13][14] Collins found a potential target in the Boston Red Sox, who had spent the better part of a decade and a half as one of the worst teams in baseball. Former owner Harry Frazee had been forced to sell most of his best players to the New York Yankees due to chronic cash shorts. His successor, Bob Quinn, had been grossly underfinanced since the illness and death of a major investor.[15] By the 1932-33 offseason, Quinn was so strapped that he had to borrow against his life insurance to send the team to spring training.[16]

Collins arranged a meeting between Quinn and Yawkey during the 1932 World Series;[15] he later agreed to come to the Red Sox if Yawkey purchased the team.[13] On February 25, 1933, Yawkey bought the Red Sox for $1.25 million.[17] The deal closed just five days after Yawkey turned 30. He became team president, giving Collins control of day-to-day operations as vice president and general manager (posts Collins held until 1947).[15][17][18]

Yawkey inherited a team that had finished the 1932 season with a record of 43–111 (.279), the worst in franchise history.[17][12] However, at one stroke the Red Sox had gone from having one of the poorest owners in baseball to easily the richest. Determined to get the Red Sox out of the basement right away, Yawkey and Collins attempted to build a successful team by acquiring talented players.[15][19] He also spent $1.5 million on repairs to Fenway Park,[20][2] giving it much of its present look.

Yawkey didn't take long to turn the Red Sox around. In 1934, they reached .500 for the first time since winning the 1918 World Series. In 1937, they notched their first winning record since 1918, and in 1938 finished in the first division for the first time since 1918. When it became apparent that buying top level major league players wasn't enough to vault them past the Yankees and Detroit Tigers, Yawkey began building a minor-league system as well.

Under Yawkey, the Jimmy Fund became the official charity of the team in 1953.[21][22] In 1957, Yawkey was elected chairman of the Jimmy Fund's board of trustees and helped establish the tradition of the Red Sox playing exhibition games to raise money for the fund.[23][2]

Yawkey spent millions over the course of his life attempting to build winning teams. In the first seven years of his ownership alone, he lost $1.7 million, more than he paid to buy the team. According to financial records of the time, he spent at least another $3 million during that time on buying players, renovating Fenway Park, and other capital expenses.[15] The Boston Globe wrote in his obituary that, in 1974, Yawkey estimated his ownership of the team had cost him over $10 million.[2] The Red Sox won the American League pennant in 1946 (their first pennant since 1918), 1967, and 1975, but then went on to lose each World Series in seven games, against the St. Louis Cardinals (1946, 1967) and the Cincinnati Reds (1975).[2][24] Yawkey never achieved his goal of winning a world championship.[25][26]

According to two anonymous sources in an article by Jeff Passan in 2011, Yawkey kept Donald Fitzpatrick, an equipment manager for the Red Sox, employed despite allegations of sexual assault against Fitzpatrick.[27] However, no public allegations against Fitzpatrick were made until 1991, 15 years after Yawkey's death.[27]

Racism and Racial Integration of the Red Sox

The Red Sox were the first MLB team to sign a Mexican-born player, fielding Mel Almada on September 8, 1933.[28] However, they were the last major league team to add a black player to their roster allegedly due to Yawkey and the managers he hired being racists.[29]

According to the Boston Herald, as owner of the Boston Red Sox, the team's integration policy was Yawkey's responsibility.[30] In 1945, Red Sox held a farce tryout chiefly designed to assuage the desegregationist sensibilities of powerful Boston City Councilman Isadore H. Y. Muchnick.[31] Even with the stands limited to management, Jackie Robinson was subjected to racial epithets.[32] He left the tryout humiliated,[33] and more than 14 years later, in July 1959, the Red Sox became the final major league team to integrate its roster.[34]

The team's attempts to integrate prior to 1959 were unsuccessful. In the 1940s and 50s, Joe Cronin, general manager after Eddie Collins, scouted black players, including Sam Jethroe, Larry Doby and Bill Greason but none signed with the team.[35] In 1950, the team signed Lorenzo Piper Davis, their first black player, for their minor league team, but he was released in May of that year.[36][37][38] Three years later, the team signed Earl Wilson to their minor league team, but his career was interrupted by serving in the Marines in 1957.[39][40][41] Wilson returned to the Sox's Minneapolis farm team after completing his military service and was fielded by the Sox in July 1959.[42][43]

In 1956, The Boston Globe published an article discussing the Red Sox's lack of black players on the team, where manager Joe Cronin denied prejudice allegations.[44][45] The article reported that the Red Sox had made an offer of $115,000 for Charlie Neal in 1954, but the offer was rejected.[44][45]

Despite the Red Sox having multiple black players in their farm system during the 1950s, the team did not promote any of them to the major league until 1959.[46] In 1959, Pumpsie Green, who was signed by the team in 1955, made his debut on July 21.[47][48]

In 1967, the Red Sox fielded a team with a starting lineup including multiple black players, such as George Scott and Reggie Smith.[49] Conversely, the Red Sox did not sign any Black free agents from the 1972 start of the free agency system until 1993, twenty-one years later, thereby missing out on a substantial portion of top baseball talent during that period.[50]

Death and legacy

Fenway Park main entrance on the then Yawkey Way in 2007

Yawkey died from leukemia in Boston on July 9, 1976.[51][2] His wife, Jean R. Yawkey, became president of the club following his death.[52][53] Yawkey was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980.[54]

The Yawkey Foundation

The Yawkey Foundation was established in 1976 through a bequest in his will.[55] Yawkey set aside $10 million in his will, which was probated in New York, to establish the foundation.[56] In 1982, Jean Yawkey created a second Yawkey Foundation.[57]

In 2002, the original Foundation donated $25 million to Massachusetts General Hospital to build an outpatient center,[58] and recorded $420 million in 2002 income after the sale of the Red Sox.[57]

In 2003, the Foundation donated $15 million to Boston Medical Center, a safety net hospital, to build the Moakley Cancer Care Building.[59][60]

In 2005, the Foundation created the Yawkey Scholars Program to award college scholarships to students with demonstrated financial need.[61]

In 2007, the Yawkey Foundations donated $30 million for the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute to build the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care in Boston.[51]

In 2008, the original Foundation supported the building of a new home, Jean Yawkey Place, for the Boston Health Care for the Homeless program.[62]

In 2013, the Foundation awarded $10 million to the Museum of Science for a gallery[63] and $3 million to Cape Cod Healthcare for an emergency center.[64]

In 2014, The Foundation gave a $10 million donation to Boston University to support a paid internship program for students to work at nonprofits.[65]

In 2018, the Foundation donated $10 million to Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital to expand the facility. Yawkey donated $100,000 to build the original hospital in 1945.[66][67]

In June 2021, the Foundation donated $5 million to Franciscan Children's new mental health center.[68]

Yawkey Way

In 1977, the section of Jersey Street where Fenway Park is located was renamed Yawkey Way in his honor.[69] However, in August 2017, due to Yawkey's alleged history of racism and discrimination against Black players, the Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry announced the team was seeking to change the name of the street. The following year, Henry publicly distanced the team from Yawkey, citing that he was "haunted by what went on here a long time before we arrived," referring to the team being the last in the major leagues to integrate under Tom Yawkey's guidance.[70][71]

The change was unanimously approved by the Boston Public Improvement Commission in April 2018, and the name reverted to Jersey Street in May 2018.[72][73] Also in May, a plaque commemorating Yawkey from "his Red Sox employees," that had hung at the administrative office entrance to Fenway Park since shortly after his death was removed.[74] In April 2019, the MBTA Commuter Rail station near the park, Yawkey station, was renamed Lansdowne station.[75]

Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center Heritage Preserve

Through his will, Yawkey donated three coastal islands in Georgetown, South Carolina, to the state to create a wildlife preserve.[76][77] The preserve covers more than 20,000 acres (81 km2) of land and consists of North Island, South Island and a majority of Cat Island. It is managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.[77][78]

In 1919, when Yawkey was 16, he inherited part of the land from his Uncle William, who originally purchased the land as part of the South Island Gun Club.[79][80] Prior to the gun club owning the land, it was the site of multiple plantations.[81]

Personal life

Yawkey married Elise Sparrow in 1925,[82] and the couple adopted a daughter named Julia in July 1936.[83][84] The couple divorced in November 1944.[82] Yawkey married Jean R. Hiller on Christmas Eve 1944.[85] Tom and Jean Yawkey had no children.[51] Yawkey's only sibling, his sister Emma, died in December 1963.[86]

In 2018, a biography of Yawkey entitled Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox by Bill Nowlin was published by the University of Nebraska Press.[87][88]

See also


  1. ^ Rogers, Thomas (1976-07-10). "The Sportsman Owner". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Driscoll, Edgar (10 July 1976). "Tom Yawkey, Red Sox owner, dies at 73 - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  3. ^ Frost, Mark (2009-09-22). Game Six: Cincinnati, Boston, and the 1975 World Series: The Triumph of America's Pastime. Hachette Books. p. 1955. ISBN 978-1-4013-9481-3.
  4. ^ "Angus Leaves Ball Team". 23 January 1904. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  5. ^ "Navin Will Be Buried Saturday, Five Weeks After Achieving Goal That He Had Sought for 32 Years". 14 November 1935. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  6. ^ "Death Came to Him Yesterday". Detroit Free Press. September 19, 1903. p. 3. Retrieved September 22, 2020 – via
  7. ^ Nowlin, Bill (2018). Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox. U of Nebraska Press. p. 384. ISBN 978-1-4962-0441-7.
  8. ^ "Yawkey Will Probated". 17 July 1976. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  9. ^ "Boy Heir To Big Fortune". 17 March 1919. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  10. ^ "Millions in Sight for a Youth of 14". The Boston Globe. March 7, 1919. p. 9. Retrieved September 21, 2020 – via
  11. ^ "SCHOOLBOY OF 16 INHERITS $20,000,000; Nephew of William H. Yawkey, Later Adopted, Gets Half of Foster-Father's Estate. HALF A MILLION FOR SISTER Widow to Decide Upon Gifts for Philanthropy--Servants Generously Remembered". The New York Times. 1919-03-18. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  12. ^ a b Ballou, Bill. "Bill Ballou: How different would things be if Winfield Schuster of Douglas bought the Red Sox in 1932?". Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  13. ^ a b "Yawkey Takes Wife's Advice And Buys Red Sox Ball Club". 10 November 1934. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  14. ^ "Eddie Collins Dies at 63; One of Baseball's All-Time Greats and Hall of Fame Players". 26 March 1951. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  15. ^ a b c d e Mark Armour; Daniel R. Levitt (2017). "Boston Red Sox team ownership history". Society for American Baseball Research.
  16. ^ Bob Quinn at SABR (Baseball BioProject)
  17. ^ a b c "YAWKEY, COLLINS BUY THE RED SOX; Wealthy New Yorker Becomes Club President and Athletics' Ex-Star His Assistant. PLEDGE WORK TO REBUILD New Owners Determined to Put Boston at Top Again -- Price Put at $1,000,000. YAWKEY, COLLINS BUY THE RED SOX PRESIDENT OF RED SOX". The New York Times. 1933-02-26. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
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  19. ^ Golenbock, Peter (2015). Red Sox Nation: The Rich and Colorful History of the Boston Red Sox. Chicago, Ill.: Triumph Books LLC. pp. 88–91. ISBN 978-1-62937-050-7.
  20. ^ Golenbock, Peter (2015). Red Sox Nation: The Rich and Colorful History of the Boston Red Sox. Chicago, Ill.: Triumph Books LLC. p. 90. ISBN 978-1-62937-050-7.
  21. ^ "Einar Gustafson Dies at 65". AP NEWS. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  22. ^ Richard, Mike. "Local Jimmy Fund squads help raise funds for worthy cause". The Gardner News. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  23. ^ "16 Jul 1957, 3 - The Bennington Evening Banner at". Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  24. ^ Corcoran, Cliff. "Looking back at the three previous Red Sox-Cardinals World Series confrontations". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
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  27. ^ a b "Way back when, Sox had their own scandal". RSN. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
  28. ^ Speier, Alex (3 May 2018). "The Red Sox are expanding their scouting in Mexico. Here's why - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2021-04-30.
  29. ^ Bryant 2003.
  30. ^ "Yawkey Way hearing draws passionate testimony on race and Red Sox". Boston Herald. 2018-03-15. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
  31. ^ Simon, pp. 46–47.
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  34. ^ O'Connell, Jack (April 13, 2007). "Robinson's many peers follow his lead". Archived from the original on August 22, 2011. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  35. ^ Armour, Mark (2010-04-01). Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 211–13. ISBN 978-0-8032-2996-9.
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  40. ^ "Boston's First Negro Player Will Enlist". 2 April 1957. Retrieved 2021-04-30.
  41. ^ Mann, Jack. "THE GREAT WALL OF BOSTON". Sports Illustrated Vault | Retrieved 2021-04-30.
  42. ^ "Murphy Checks on Miller Aid". 3 March 1959. Retrieved 2021-04-30.
  43. ^ Corcoran, Cliff. "Sons of Jackie Robinson: Remembering the players who broke the color line for the other 15 teams of that era". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2021-04-30.
  44. ^ a b "Cronin Scoffs at Rumors, Tells of Scouting, Schools Red Sox Eager to Sign Negro Players". 15 July 1956. Retrieved 2021-04-30.
  45. ^ a b "Cronin Denies Rumors, Gives Evidence Proving Club's Good Intentions". 15 July 1956. Retrieved 2021-04-30.
  46. ^ Golenbock, Peter (2015). Red Sox Nation: The Rich and Colorful History of the Boston Red Sox. Chicago, Ill.: Triumph Books LLC. pp. 224–229. ISBN 978-1-62937-050-7.
  47. ^ Koch, Bill. "Pumpsie Green, 1st black player on Boston Red Sox, dies". Retrieved 2021-04-30.
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  49. ^ Rhoden, William C. (2013-10-30). "Jackie Robinson's Legacy Recedes on Baseball Rosters". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-04-30.
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  54. ^ Rosen, ron (1980-03-13). "Klein, Yawkey in Hall". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-05-03.
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  56. ^ "17 Jul 1976, 8 - The Brattleboro Reformer at". Retrieved 5 January 2022.
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  83. ^ "The News Parade in Pictures". 14 July 1936. Retrieved 2021-05-03.
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  85. ^ Shaughnessy, Dan. "Ex-players remember Jean Yawkey's role in Red Sox tradition". Retrieved 2021-05-03.
  86. ^ "Ouerbacker, Emma Austin". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. December 13, 1963. p. 46. Retrieved September 23, 2020 – via
  87. ^ Montville, Leigh (February 2, 2018). "Review: 'Tom Yawkey' and the Red Sox' 'Original Sin'". The Wall Street Journal. Boston was an all-white ball club until 1959—12 years after Jackie Robinson became a Dodger.
  88. ^ "Bill Nowlin on Tom Yawkey's life and legacy". 17 July 2018. Retrieved 2021-05-03.

Further reading

  • Nowlin, Bill (2018). Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0803296831.
  • Armour, Mark. "Tom Yawkey". SABR. Retrieved May 3, 2021.

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by Owner of the Boston Red Sox
February 25, 1933 – July 9, 1976
Succeeded by
Preceded by Boston Red Sox President
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 2 April 2024, at 01:40
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