Cafardo: Yawkey biographer Bill Nowlin ‘never once found any evidence’ of personal racism

From Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe on August 19, 2017, with SABR member Bill Nowlin:

Bill Nowlin’s biography of Thomas Yawkey comes out in February. In light of Red Sox principal owner and Boston Globe publisher John Henry’s recent comments that he would lead the way in trying to have Yawkey Way renamed given Yawkey’s racist past, Nowlin makes a case that Yawkey may not have been the racist that he’s portrayed as.

“I never once found any evidence that Yawkey was personally racist,” Nowlin said after extensively researching his book, “Thomas Yawkey, Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox.” “Nor did interviews with several dozen Sox players, including Pumpsie Green and Reggie Smith, turn up any such a suggestion. I looked for a smoking gun, and couldn’t find one.”

Nowlin, who has collaborated on more than 60 books on baseball and the Red Sox, gave the example that Yawkey did not personally exclude himself from friendships along racial lines.

“His closest hunting/fishing companion in South Carolina was of mixed race,” Nowlin explained. “That said, while he personally may not have been racist, it’s an undeniable fact that the Red Sox were last to integrate and had few employees of color at any level, not just on the field. With Yawkey owning 100 percent of the team, accountable to no one, he could have changed this in 24 hours had he wanted to.”

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Originally published: August 25, 2017. Last Updated: August 25, 2017.