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The Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball have removed a statue that honored former owner Calvin Griffith which stood outside Target Field in downtown Minneapolis, the club’s home since 2010.
In a statement issued on Friday, Juneteenth, the team condemned Griffith’s past racism.
“While we acknowledge the prominent role Calvin Griffith played in our history, we cannot remain silent and continue ignoring the racist comments he made in Waseca in 1978. His disbarring words displayed a blatant intolerance and disregard for the Black community that are the antithesis of what the Minnesota Twins stand for and value.”
Griffith became a majority owner of the team in 1955 when his uncle died, and subsequently moved the team, then the Washington Senators, to Minnesota in 1961.
The #MNTwins removed the Calvin Griffith statue from Target Field this morning. pic.twitter.com/K044WNP7Ys
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) June 19, 2020
“In 1978, [Griffith] went on a racist tirade at the Waseca Lions Club saying he wanted to move to Minnesota because there was a smaller African American population and a majority of ‘good, hardworking white people here’…The speech was widely condemned at the time,” The Hill recalled.
Statues all over the country deemed offensive are being pulled down in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody over which four officers have been criminally charged, one with murder.
Why it took this tragic event to get the Twins to suddenly no longer “remain silent” about the racial bias of their former owner, who passed away in 1999, is an open question.
In general, corporate America has engaged in a significant amount of pandering following the Floyd protests.
The Twins shared a statement on the removal of the statue of Calvin Griffith, the former team owner, from Target Field: "We cannot remain silent and continue ignoring the racist comments he made in Waseca in 1978." pic.twitter.com/sASfl4lp9f
— Bleacher Report MLB (@BR_MLB) June 19, 2020
Reasonable people can agree or disagree about pulling down statues and whether that constitutes erasing both the good and bad aspects of history. Most would agree that statues on public property should only be removed through a legal process rather than by woke mob rule, however. The owners of private property, of course, can make their own decisions.
Former Twins superstar Rod Carew, who is black, said that “I have long forgiven Calvin for his insensitive comments and do not believe he was a racist. That was NOT my personal experience with Calvin Griffith — prior to or following that day,” the Star Tribune reported.
The Twins’ current owners, the Pohlad family, plan to donate $25 million to racial justice reform.
Parenthetically, MLB has yet to reach an agreement with the players’ union about starting up the 2020 season, with a first step being Spring Training 2.0. The regular season was set to start at the end of March when the coronavirus derailed all the sports leagues.
MLB players have expressed concern about the recent spike in COVID positive tests in Florida, where roughly half of the teams train. Professional athletes, by virtue of their age and fitness, are in a very low-risk group for virus-related fatalities, however.
While blue-check Twitter reacts favorably to any statue removal in the fight against so-called systemic or institutional racism, not everyone on social media approved of the Twins’ decision about the Calvin Griffith effigy.
I have no idea who this dude was/is. Don’t especially care if his statue stayed or went. But I know this: No matter how much you do, it will never be enough for the woke crowd.
This won’t be the end, only the beginning.
— Mike 🇺🇸 (@Mike__VB) June 19, 2020
Ponder this: Let’s remove all historical statues, figures, quotes, etc. from every area of the United States and start over… that’s how ridiculous this has become. If anything, some of this should serve as a reminder of the past that should not be repeated.
— Self Quarantined (@JasonKral) June 19, 2020
God, was this really an issue? He was an owner of the team. Nothing more. I’m sure the twins had to do it though since they know protestors can yank down any statue in the state without punishment. Might as well do it cleanly.
— biscuits n gravy (@iceshaker) June 19, 2020
The only thing you prevent from hiding history is learning history. I could care less about taking the statue down but I have a big problem with why. You can’t correct racism until you identify it. Sometimes it’s easy, other times not so much. You can never do that by hiding it.
— Toby Wood (@tdub2288) June 19, 2020
I disagree with this decision. This organization had an opportunity to use Calvin Griffith’s ownership of this franchise as an example of placing all matters in historical context. To acknowledge the severe flaws in Calvin’s character. To remind all the progress that has been
— Jim Turner (@DelBocaVista2) June 19, 2020
I am no Calvin Griffith fan but this crap has to stop. No person is perfect and they can atone. We should be judged on our lifetime of work, not a single moment or issue.
— Sports Parody (@SportsParodyFan) June 19, 2020
Gotta cancel everyone, including the dead, even though the statue was obviously not honoring his racist comments from 1978, should take down Kirby Puckett’s statue over his sexual harrasment/assault allegations while we’re at it
— Trevor Borwege (@TrevorBorwege) June 19, 2020
Rod Carew raised his children as Jewish. That will offend Representative Omar. His statue needs to go.
— CliffymanSolo (@mneu219) June 19, 2020
better tear down the Washington monument, Jefferson Memorial etc.
— Robert Baker (@baseballfan30) June 19, 2020
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