yawkey way, jersey street, ywakey way name change, red sox, tom yawkey
Yawkey Way will now be known as Jersey Street, the original name of the thoroughfare before it was changed to honor former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey. Photo: Zaigee/Flickr Creative Commons

When you head into a Red Sox game, you’ll no longer be walking down Yawkey Way. The city’s Public Improvement Commission voted Thursday to change the name of the famed Fenway street.

 

Yawkey Way will once again be known as Jersey Street, the commission unanimously voted, removing the ties with former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey.

 

Jersey Street had been renamed Yawkey Way in 1977, but the more-recent moniker came has come under fire from those who wanted to scrub Yawkey’s “racist legacy” from association with Fenway and the Red Sox.

 

Current Red Sox owner John Henry said in an interview with the Boston Herald last summer that he is “haunted” by Yawkey’s racism. Under his leadership, the Red Sox were the “absolute last team in baseball to integrate,” finally bringing on a black player in 1959, according to the Boston Globe.

 

The Red Sox filed a petition with the city in February to change the street name, the Associated Press reported

 

“Today’s vote is an important step in our ongoing effort to make Fenway Park a place where everyone feels welcome,” the team said in a statement. ‘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.”

Not everyone is happy with the change, though. In a statement, the Yawkey Foundations, a philanthropic organization named after the former Red Sox owner and his wife, it said it was “deeply disappointed” by the decision. The narrative of Tom Yawkey’s “racist legacy” is false, it said.

“We have always acknowledged that it is regrettable that the Red Sox were the last Major League baseball team to integrate,” the statement said. “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.”

There is also a commuter rail station bearing Yawkey’s name. The MBTA said that will change, as well.

“The MBTA will work collaboratively with its city partners to change the station name,” the transit authority said, “and ensure consistency and familiarity for T customers, visitors to the area, and for public safety officials.”