Sunday, April 15, 2007


Second rainout of the year for the Sox, both at Fenway. Where is the retractable roof talk? Kidding, only kidding, but somewhere, Ted Sarandas is outraged.

I'm pretty bummed about this game getting rained out, for two reasons. Firs of all, our bullpen was fresh off Schilling's 8 inning performance, and the Angels bullpen was worn after Carrasco's debacle yesterday afternoon. It also would have been cool to see players wearing 42. Great idea by Griffey, by the way.

Jackie Robinson and the Red Sox have an interesting little history. One of the most celebrated men in Red Sox history is Tom Yawkey. Yawkey, from South Carolina, bought the team in 1933, and did a lot for the franchise in his 44 year tenure as owner. He put money back into the team. He did things like rebuild the left field grandstand, which had been burnt down in a 1926 fire and hadn't been rebuilt. He took a team that finished 8th in the AL in 1932 with a record of 43-111, and turned it into a .500 team by 1934. He acquired great players like Lefty Grove, and Jimmie Foxx. By 1938, the team was finishing in the 1st division (that means the top 4 of the AL). By 1946, the team won the pennant for the first time in 28 years, won 100 games for the first time in 31 years, and went to the World Series, losing to St. Louis.

Yawkey's been honored by baseball as a member of the Hall of Fame, honored by the Red Sox and the city of Boston with a street named after him, and a Commuter Rail station named after him. The little dots and dashes on the Green Monster scoreboard spell out the initials of Yawkey in his wife in Morse Code.

But the man, and the team under him, were racists. The Sox had an opportunity to sign Jackie Robinson before the Dodgers did. Passed up on it. OK, maybe they didn't want to risk being the first team with black players. Then the Indians got Larry Doby, who also tried out for the Sox and was denied. Then Cleveland got Satchel Paige. In 1948, the Indians and Red Sox tied for 1st in the AL and played a single game playoff to determine the pennant winner. Cleveland won. Now, imagine if we had gotten Paige. In 1948, he went 6-1 in 7 starts for Cleveland. Doby hit .301 for the Indians that year. We could have had those players, ANYONE could have, and we had an owner willing to shell out money for good players, BUT ONLY IF THEY WERE GOOD WHITE PLAYERS. And he has a street named after him.

The Sox were one of the best teams in the 1940s, finishing 1st in the AL in '46, 3rd in '47, 2nd by a game in '48, 2nd by a game in '49. Then in the 50s, we started to drop a bit. 3rd, 3rd. 6th, 4th, 4th, 4th, 4th, 3rd, 3rd, 5th. The rest of baseball had black players. We didn't. We were back where we started when Yawkey bought the team, finishing 7th in 1960, with Bumpsie Green being our token black player.

Did you know that Willie Mays was on a Negro League affiliate of a Sox minor league team? Did you know the Sox could have bought his contract for a song? Did you know that Willie Mays hit 660 homeruns? Did you know he was one of, if not the, best player of the 1950s, the decade that saw us struggle to finish in the top 4 of the AL?

People talk about the Curse of the Bambino, or maybe just bad luck being responsible for the Red Sox's many failures from 1919 to 2003. They're wrong, at least for part of the time. In the late 1940s, and the 1950s, it was the Curse of Tom Yawkey that was to blame for the Sox failures.

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