Tomase: 10 possible names for Yawkey Way

John Tomase
August 18, 2017 - 12:27 pm
Yawkey Way

David Butler II/USA Today Sports


Let's get this out of the way: there are already enough streets named after David Ortiz.

Red Sox owner John Henry told the Boston Herald he wants the city to rename Yawkey Way, and he suggested Big Papi as a replacement. We all love Ortiz, but we've already named a street and bridge in honor of the Breaker of Curses, so those are going to have to suffice.

In the meantime, it's worth considering some other possibilities. Here are 10.

1. Pumpsie Green

There'd be something poetic about replacing the virulently racist Yawkey with the player who finally broke Boston's color barrier, 12 years after Jackie Robinson debuted with the Dodgers (and after a sham tryout with the Red Sox). Green never asked to be a symbol, however, and might balk.

2. Tommy Harper

A better choice would be the former Red Sox outfielder, coach, and instructor. He called more attention to the team's disgraceful record on race than anyone, particularly by highlighting the whites-only invitations handed out by the Winter Haven Elks Club, and he maintained his dignity even when mistreated.

3. Pedro Martinez

If the idea is to honor a franchise great, look no further than Martinez. He changed the culture and atmosphere at Fenway Park through sheer force of personality, giving the team's Hispanic fans a real voice for the first time since the days of Luis Tiant. That joyousness traced directly to No. 45.

4. Theo Epstein

A student of American history, the Brookline-born and Yale-educated Epstein ended the Curse in 2004, built a World Series winner in 2007, and contributed greatly to the 2013 champions. He was also keenly aware of the club's ignominious history and has become a voice for social justice.

6. 2004

If we want to talk about changing Red Sox history, the conversation pretty much starts and ends with this club. From the magical comeback against the Yankees to the emergence of Ortiz as a dominant postseason force, this title will never be topped in our lifetimes.

5. Frederick Douglass

There's no reason to limit this to sports. The famed abolitionist and orator settled in New Bedford after escaping slavery in Maryland. He produced some of the most famous works in American literature and was an eloquent voice for equality, speaking for women's rights and in defense of immigrants.

6. Bill Russell

A little off the beaten path, but Russell is a Boston treasure. The greatest winner in the history of team sports, albeit up the street with the Celtics, Russell endured a series of racial humiliations here, but didn't let it cow him. He was an outspoken champion of civil rights.

7. Jackie Robinson

In 1945, a Boston city councilor forced Yawkey to hold a tryout for black players that included Robinson. The tryout was a sham, Robinson went to the Dodgers, and the rest is history. There'd be no better rebuke of the Yawkey stewardship than renaming his street after the player he treated as unworthy of consideration.

8. Tom Menino

Boston's popular former mayor was a long-time voice of inclusion and is considered a civic institution. If it's true that the late Menino resisted overtures by Henry to address Yawkey Way earlier, however, then naming the street after him becomes a tougher sell.

9. Jimmy Fund

The most positive impact the Red Sox have made on the community over the last half century is their work with Dana Farber to cure pediatric cancer. They could cement that legacy in a way that still pays indirect tribute to Yawkey's impressive charitable works.

10. Ted Williams

Like Ortiz, Williams already has lots named after him, including a giant tunnel. But it goes without saying that the war hero remains the greatest player in team history and perhaps the best pure hitter that ever lived.

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