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Tom Yawkey

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Tom Yawkey

Thomas Austin "Tom" Yawkey
Born Thomas Austin
(1903-02-21)February 21, 1903
Detroit, Michigan
Died July 9, 1976(1976-07-09) (aged 73)
Boston, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Known for Owner of the Boston Red Sox
Term 1933–1976
Predecessor J. A. Robert Quinn
Successor Jean R. Yawkey

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


  • Early life 1
  • Boston Red Sox 2
    • Charges of racism and other controversies 2.1
  • Legacy 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Yawkey was born Thomas Austin in Detroit, Michigan on February 21, 1903. He was the grandson of lumber and iron magnate William Clyman Yawkey, who agreed in principle to buy the Detroit Tigers in 1903 but died before the deal closed. The deal eventually was completed by Tom's uncle, Bill Yawkey. After his father died, Tom's uncle adopted him and he took the Yawkey name.

Bill Yawkey died in 1919 and left his $40 million estate to his adopted son, but a clause in the will forbade him from taking possession of it until he turned 30 years old. Tom Yawkey was a graduate of the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University in 1925 and was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

Boston Red Sox

Four days after his 30th birthday, Yawkey bought the Red Sox for $1.2 million on the advice of his longtime friend, former A's second baseman and superstar hitter Eddie Collins.

The Red Sox had been the dregs of the American League for more than a decade since the infamous Babe Ruth sale to the Yankees by former owner Harry Frazee before the 1920 season, and had just come off a dreadful 111-loss season in 1932 which is still the worst in franchise history. Yawkey hired Collins as general manager with instructions to buy up as much talent as possible to turn the team around. He also heavily renovated Fenway Park, which had fallen into disrepair over the years.

Yawkey devoted his time and finances for the rest of his life to building winning teams. His teams' best seasons occurred in 1946, 1967 & 1975, when the Red Sox captured the American League pennant but then went on to lose each World Series in seven games, against the St. Louis Cardinals in (1946 & 1967) and the Cincinnati Reds in (1975). He would never achieve his ultimate goal of winning a world championship.

Charges of racism and other controversies

Yawkey has been accused of being a racist for his apparent reluctance to employ black players with the Red Sox.[1][2]

The Red Sox had several black players in their farm system during the 1950s. Many would have good seasons but then, without explanation, be traded away or even released outright, while the slow, lumbering power-oriented white players that typified the Red Sox were no longer in style in the major leagues. Against his personal wishes, Yawkey finally allowed the team to be integrated. In 1959, the Red Sox became the last major league team to field a black player, (Pumpsie Green), twelve years after Jackie Robinson's rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers and two-and-a-half years after Robinson's retirement. Robinson would later call Yawkey "one of the most bigoted guys in baseball".[3]

Even after integrating, racism was believed to play a role in future Red Sox moves, notably the trades of star outfielder Reggie Smith in 1973 and slugging young outfielder Ben Oglivie for aging Tiger veteran second baseman Dick McAuliffe shortly afterward.[4] During that period, the Red Sox went from perennial contender to failing to finish within ten games of first place for 17 years (195066).

Another controversy involved longtime clubhouse attendant Donald Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick was convicted of sexual abuse of minors between 1971 and 1991 while working in the Red Sox spring training clubhouse in Winter Haven, Florida. The abuse was reported to the team by victims and players who witnessed it, but Fitzpatrick remained employed. Yawkey, and later his wife Jean after Tom's death, protected Fitzpatrick from the allegations, according to two sources with knowledge of their relationship.[5]


Yawkey was a popular man and proved a strong voice in major league councils. He also served as American League vice president between 1956 and 1973. He died in Boston, Massachusetts on July 9, 1976. His wife, Jean R. Yawkey, became president of the club following his death. The section of Jersey Street on which Fenway Park was located was renamed Yawkey Way in his honor.

A chain of islands off the coast of

Preceded by
J. A. Robert Quinn
Owner of the Boston Red Sox
February 25, 1933 – July 9, 1976
Succeeded by
Jean R. Yawkey
  • Tom Yawkey at the Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Baseball Library - biography and career highlights
  • Yawkey Foundation

External links

  • "Milestones, Jan. 8, 1945: Married. Thomas Austin Yawkey", Time magazine, Monday, Jan. 08, 1945

Further reading

  1. ^ Bryant, Howard. Shut Out: Race and Baseball in Boston, New York: Routledge, 2002
  2. ^
  3. ^ / Sports / Ted Williams: A life remembered
  5. ^ From Another Era And Another Sport, A Sex Abuse Scandal Still Inflicting Pain Today
  6. ^ Tom Yawkey Heritage Preserve


See also

Tom Yawkey with his first wife Elise Sparrow Yawkey in 1938

Tom Yawkey was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980.


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