Yawkey Way Outside Fenway Park Changed Over Racist Past

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David Ortiz, John Henry, Marty Walsh
Retired Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is honored with the renaming of a portion of Yawkey Way to David Ortiz Drive outside Fenway Park in Boston. Beside him are Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, second from right, and team owner John Henry, right. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

BOSTON (AP) — Boston approved a plan Thursday to change the name of Yawkey Way, the street outside Fenway Park named in honor of a former Red Sox owner some have said was racist.

The city’s Public Improvement Commission unanimously approved a proposal by current Red Sox ownership to call the stretch of roadway Jersey Street, which it was originally called before being changed in 1977 to honor Tom Yawkey a year after he died.

The team filed a petition with the commission in February to change the name as part of a mission to “reinforce that Fenway Park is inclusive and welcoming to all.” Yawkey Way is the street Fenway Park is on.

Yawkey owned the Red Sox from 1933 to 1976 and presided over the last franchise in Major League Baseball to field a black player. That was in 1959, more than a decade after Jackie Robinson played for the Dodgers.

Yawkey’s supporters opposed the change, saying the foundation named for him has provided millions of dollars in charitable contributions that have benefited all city residents.

The city renamed a stretch of the road David Ortiz Drive last summer in honor of the retired Red Sox designated hitter.

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