Yawkey Way

David Butler II/USA Today Sports

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy explains why Yawkey Way can't be renamed after David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, or Larry Bird

John Tomase
January 19, 2018 - 10:53 pm

The things you learn when trying to strip the name of an avowed racist off a public street: only the dead may apply.

Speaking to reporters at Foxwoods on Friday night as part of the team's winter weekend, Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said the club is making progress on the renaming of Yawkey Way, but noted that rules prohibit the new street from being named after anyone living, which means no Pedro Martinez Way or David Ortiz Drive.

"There's been talk about the possibility of returning to what the original name was, which was Jersey Street," Kennedy said. "It's been made clear in our research and due diligence that you can't currently petition for a living person when there's other property owners on the street. There's  a provision that allows you to petition for a name of a living person if there aren't other property abutters on the street. So, living person is out of the question. We've had a few different ideas, but we're not quite there yet."

In the wake of the unrest in Charlottesville earlier this year, Red Sox owner John Henry noted that perhaps the time had come for the team to disentangle itself from the complicated legacy of former owner Tom Yawkey, who made the Red Sox the last team to integrate in 1959 and was also accused of holding a sham tryout for Willie Mays.

The Red Sox can request a name change, but it's up to a city commission to act on it. Kennedy said the team expects to have some news on that front in the coming weeks.

"We're in active conversations with the city," Kennedy said. "We're talking to our neighbors and city council members, we have to have a sponsor of our petition, so we're engaged in those discussions right now and would anticipate a petition being filed. But we are in active conversations with city hall, the mayor has been terrific and his staff understand our desire to formally petition, but we've got to get a resolution on a few logistical items like a name for one, that we're going to formally petition for. When there's news to report on that, we'll let you know."

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