Regardless of whether Yawkey Way is renamed, the Boston Red Sox will not remove a Morse code tribute to former owner Tom Yawkey from Fenway Park‘s Green Monster.
As was noted here last week, the Red Sox are asking the city to change the name of Yawkey Way to Jersey Street, a move that would distance current ownership from Yawkey‘s racist legacy. The Red Sox were the last major league team to integrate, as they did not do so until 1959, more than a decade after Jackie Robinson broke the color line in 1947. While Yawkey and the Red Sox were scouting Negro Leagues players in the mid-1940s (indeed, the Red Sox gave Robinson a tryout and passed on signing Willie Mays), his opposition to actually pulling the trigger on a signing and MLB roster spot is certainly a stain on the Yawkey legacy.
A Fenway Park street that is closed before every home game for pregame festivities is named Yawkey Way, but the Red Sox are asking the city to revert it to Jersey Street, its original name. That request will not be considered by the city’s Public Improvement Commission until March 15, but the Red Sox have already stated how they will handle other aspects of Yawkey’s legacy. The team does not plan to remove a Morse code tribute to Tom Yawkey and his wife Jean from Fenway’s Green Monster, or other references to him within Fenway Park. More from WBUR.org:
On the white stripes separating the columns of American League scores on the Green Monster are a few dots and dashes — Morse code spelling out Tom and Jean Yawkey’s initials.
In an email Monday, Red Sox spokeswoman Zineb Curran said there are no plans to remove the Morse code:
“The petition [to rename Yawkey Way] is an effort to continue to work towards inclusion at Fenway Park, not an effort to erase the Yawkey legacy from the ballpark entirely. The name on our front door is very different from other areas of Fenway Park that showcase the history of the Yawkey era. We have no plans to remove other references or tributes to him.”
The Yawkey Foundation has publicly expressed its opposition to renaming Yawkey Way, though the Red Sox have stated that their issue is with Yawkey’s legacy and not to the present-day Yawkey Foundation. Current Red Sox owner John Henry publicly discussed the idea of renaming Yawkey Way last summer, though any action on renaming the street will require city approval.