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Tom Yawkey

A photo of Tom 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 in baseball history.

Early life[]

Yawkey was born Thomas Austin. His grandfather owned a successful lumber and iron business and attempted to purchase the Detroit Tigers but died amid the negotiations. The deal was eventually completed by Tom's uncle. After his father died, Tom's uncle adopted him, and he took the Yawkey name. Yawkey eventually inherited a sizable estate from his uncle. Yawkey was a graduate of the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University.

Successes with the Red Sox[]

He purchased a struggling team for $1.2 million after the infamous Babe Ruth transaction, dedicating his time and finances for the rest of his life to building winning teams. His teams' best seasons occurred in 1946, 1967 and 1975 when the Red Sox captured the American League pennant, and then went on to lose each World Series in seven games against the St. Louis Cardinals (1946, 1967) and Cincinnati Reds (1975). He would never achieve his ultimate goal of winning a World Series championship.

Charges of racism[]

Yawkey has been accused of being a racist for his apparent reluctance to employ African American players with the Red Sox[1], including passing on signing Willie Mays[2] and Jackie Robinson[3]. It was not until 1959 that the Red Sox became the last Major League team to field an African American player (Pumpsie Green), 12 years after Robinson's rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers (and almost three years after Robinson's retirement in 1956). During that period, the Red Sox went from being a perennial contender to failing to finish within 10 games of first place for 17 years (1950-1966).


Yawkey was a generous and 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; his wife, Jean R. Yawkey, became president of the club following his death. The street in Boston that Fenway Park is on, Yawkey Way, is named after him.

A chain of islands off the coast of Georgetown, South Carolina make up the Yawkey Heritage Preserve, a nature preserve formed from land willed to the DNR by Tom Yawkey. It consists of North and South Islands and a majority of Cat Island. [4]

There is also a amateur baseball league assosciated with Tom Yawkey located in Boston Massachusetts. It is the Thomas A. Yawkey Baseball League. Yawkey League baseball

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

File:Tom Yawkey NYWTS.jpg

Tom Yawkey with his wife Jean Yawkey


  1. Bryant, Howard. Shut Out: Race and Baseball in Boston, New York: Routledge, 2002
  2. Halberstam, David. Summer of '49, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1989
  3. Shaughnessy, Dan. The Curse of the Bambino, New York: Penguin Books, 1991
  4. Tom Yawkey Heritage Preserve

See also[]

External links[]

Preceded by:
J.A. Robert Quinn
Owner of the Boston Red Sox
1933 — 1976
Succeeded by:
Jean R. Yawkey