Twins Commemorate Juneteenth By Removing Statue of Calvin Griffith
In 1961, Calvin Griffith was responsible for moving the Washington Senators to Minnesota to become the Minnesota Twins. Griffith is among people such as Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, and others memorialized around Target Field for their contributions to Twins history. This morning, the Twins announced that they’re removing the statue of their former owner from Target Field’s grounds:
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) June 19, 2020
So just what were these damning comments made by Griffith in 1978 anyway? According to reports, Griffith said this about moving the team to Minnesota:
“I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks. Black people don’t go to ball games, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. It’s unbelievable. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking, white people here.”Former Minnesota Twins Owner Calvin Griffith, 1978
I’m sorry, what?
Griffith’s attitude toward black people (along with this remark), are known to be the reasons for Hall of Famer Rod Carew leaving the franchise. It’s been said that upon hearing what the owner of his team said, he nearly decided not to play, and the next season he was traded to the Angels:
“I will not ever sign another contract with this organization. I don’t care how much money or how many options Calvin Griffith offers me. I definitely will not be back next year. I will not come back and play for a bigot. I’m not going to be another n***** on his plantation.”Rod Carew to StarTribune reporter Gary Libman in 1978
Knowing what we know about Griffith, and how he was instrumental in alienating players like his Rookie of the Year, twelve-time All Star, seven-time AL batting champion. 1978 MVP Carew, it’s no wonder that the Twins would want to remove a statue honoring him. If you have the stomach to read some of the social media comments from people in response to removing the statue, it illuminates just how much work we as a society have ahead of us in the fight for racial equality. In 2020, it’s startling to see how many people are saying they won’t be returning to Target Field as a result of the ball club removing this statue:
Of course many people are also applauding the move by the team. If we’re being honest, most people wouldn’t have even noticed the statue had been removed if the Twins hadn’t made the announcement. But the team and it’s current owners, the (notoriously cheap) Pohlad family, have been working toward repairing race relations in Twins Territory since the murder of George Floyd just a few miles down the road from Target Field – including a $25 million donation toward the cause. The removal of the statue is just another step while they walk the walk in the march toward equality. In comparison, one of the latest proposals for the upcoming 2020 season from the MLBPA included a $10 million donation from the entire league toward the same goals.
I, for one, am looking forward to going to Target Field without being surrounded by bigots. It’s unfortunate that people still find it acceptable to make racially charged comments toward others. And it’s not just racial bias that we have to fight. Last year, my family and another family went to the game together for Joe Mauer’s number retirement, and we were having a great time. A woman seated near us was yelling toward pitcher Trevor May “Come on May, don’t be gay!” We shot the woman a look and continued watching the game. And then she said it again! My friend and I eventually said something (I cannot remember what) but my hope is that people like her would be among the people giving up their tickets. I’m saying a hopeful goodbye to all that feel that Griffith’s comments were ok.