Twins remove statue of ex-owner Calvin Griffith, who moved team to be around 'hard-working white people'
The Minnesota Twins removed the statue of former owner Calvin Griffith from Target Field, citing racism.
The statue was removed on June 19, the June 19 celebration commemorating the day in 1865 when the last Confederate slaves were emancipated in the United States. Target Field is located in downtown Minneapolis, not far from where George Floyd died in local police custody on May 25.
Griffith owned the Twins franchise from 1955 until it was sold in 1984. He inherited the team from his adoptive father at the age of 43 when it was known as the Washington Senators. Griffith moved the Senators to Minnesota in 1961, where they were renamed Twins.
"They only had 15,000 black people here"
In a speech to the Lions Club in Waseca, Minnesota in 1978, Griffith spoke about why he had moved the Washington team.
Calvin Griffith moved the twins from Washington to Minnesota because "they only had 15,000 blacks here". (Photo by Raymond Boyd / Getty Images)
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
At one point in the speech Griffith paused, lowered his voice, and asked if there were black people nearby. Then he said, "I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when I found out that you only had 15,000 blacks here. Blacks don't go to ball games, but they fill a rattle ring and put on such a song, that you're scaring to death. It's incredible. We came here because you have good, hardworking, white people here. "
The twins cited the removal of the statue in 1978, an obvious recognition of this speech before the Lions Club.
"Our decision to commemorate Calvin Griffith with a statue reflects an ignorance of our systemic racism that prevailed in 1978, 2010, and today," the statement said. “We apologize for not adequately recognizing how the statue was viewed and the pain it caused to many people - both within the Twins organization and across the Twins territory.
"We cannot remove Calvin Griffith from the history of the Minnesota Twins, but we believe that removing this statue is an important and necessary step in our ongoing commitment to provide a target field experience that makes every fan and employee feel safe and welcome . "
Sports billing continues
The twins' decision is the youngest in the sports world to reflect the larger settlement of races in the United States after Floyd's murder.
On Thursday, the SEC threatened to pull championship events out of the state of Mississippi as long as the Confederate flag remains part of the state flag. The NCAA followed on Friday.
On June 10, NASCAR banned fans from showing the Confederate flag at their events, a long tradition of southern-based sport.
The same day, the Carolina Panthers removed a statue of founding owner Jerry Richardson from the Bank of America Stadium, referring to "public security" when Confederate statues were toppled in cities across the country. Richardson sold the team to David Tepper in 2018 after it was reported that he had committed sexual harassment and made a racist allegation at work.
Richardson was also a co-founder of the Denny's restaurant chain. The chain paid $ 54 million in 1994 to settle lawsuits from black customers who were alleged to have been denied service or received inferior service.
A memorial to founding owner George Preston Marshall was removed from RFK Stadium, the former home of the Washington Redskins, on Friday. Marshall was a segregationist who refused to sign black players until the 1962 federal law forced him to do so.
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