BOSTON (CBS) – Historic Fenway Park will no longer sit on Yawkey Way.
Boston’s Public Improvement Commission on Thursday unanimously approved a proposal by the Red Sox to return Yawkey Way to its original name, Jersey Street.
Red Sox owner John Henry said last year that the name change was necessary because he is “haunted” by the history of racism associated with the team’s previous owner, Tom Yawkey. The Red Sox were the last team to sign a black player in Major League Baseball. Yawkey owned the Sox from 1933 to 1976. Jersey Street was renamed in his honor in 1977, a year after he died.
There was a lengthy debate about the name change during a public hearing in March. Supporters of the Yawkey name say it is associated with significant charitable contributions.
The Red Sox issued a statement Thursday afternoon thanking the committee for approving the proposal.
Today’s vote is an important step in our ongoing effort to make Fenway Park a place where everyone feels welcome. We recognize we have a long way to go, but remain committed to building a spirit of diversity, inclusivity, and openness within our front office and our ballpark. We look forward to working with the business and civic leaders of Boston to continue to bring about social change in our community.
Following the decision, the Yawkey Foundations issued a statement saying it’s “deeply disappointed” by the vote.
We have always acknowledged that it is regrettable that the Red Sox were the last Major League baseball team to integrate. We also realize there were strong feelings in favor of renaming Yawkey Way based on that painful fact and other criticisms about the team’s record concerning race and inclusivity. But we also believe that consideration of the whole story of the team’s efforts to integrate and the full picture of Tom Yawkey’s life more than justified keeping the name Yawkey Way.
A vote was originally scheduled for April 12, but it was postponed until the final decision was made on Thursday.
The foundation thanked supporters who joined them in opposing the name change. The group said it “will carry on the mission of Tom and his wife, Jean, a legacy of giving that has provided more than $300 million to organizations throughout Boston.”
“This a sad day for all of us at the Foundations. Tom Yawkey deserved to have his name live on at Fenway Park. We can’t change today’s decision, but we remain hopeful that he will be remembered as the good and decent man he truly was,” the Yawkey Foundations said to conclude their statement.
The MBTA commuter rail station outside Fenway Park is also named after Yawkey.
“The MBTA will work collaboratively with its city partners to change the station name, and ensure consistency and familiarity for T customers, visitors to the area, and for public safety officials,” the agency said in a statement to WBZ-TV
The Museum of Science said it has no plans to change the name of its Yawkey Gallery. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will also be keeping the Yawkey name on its building. Both Boston College and Boston University say they have no plans to remove the Yawkey name from buildings on campus.