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Thursday, March 23, 2023
Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: A fun place to hold a commencement!

Editor’s Notebook: A fun place to hold a commencement!

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College-commencement notices continue to flood into Sun Gazette World Headquarters, and we are always happy to have them.

One came over the transom from Emerson College, noting that (apparently due to the desire to hold ceremonies outside due to “the covid”), its 2021 ceremony was held at Fenway Park.

Ah, Fenway, one of my favorite childhood places. In fact, during what probably was my first trip there, as a mere tyke in the late 1970s when we sat in the right-field bleachers during a game vs. the Yankees, my observational skills already were honed enough to note the following:

  • Dwight Evans was one of the great, if underrated, right fielders ever. The guy could fire a ball from deep right to home plate on one hop. Only a foolish baserunner would try to test that arm.
  • In general, ushers staffing the bleacher sections did not intervene until the fistfights between Red Sox and Yankees fans really got out of control. By that point, it was up to the Boston Police Department to restore order.
  • Fans in the cheap seats in the 1970s sure liked to smoke a different kind of cigarette, if you get my drift. Pungent, pungent, pungent!

Haven’t been to Fenway – for baseball, concerts or whatnot – in a long time. There’s always the future to look to!

SPEAKING OF FENWAY: From the 1930s to the 1980s, the team was owned by the Yawkey family, for most of that time (until his death in the 1970s) by patriarch Tom Yawkey, who back in the day way honored by having the little street outside the ballpark renamed “Yawkey Way” by grateful Boston officials.

A few years ago, in another, ahem, proud “woke” moment, the name was removed at the request of the current team owner. Tom Yawkey’s purported racism was the reason given.

As one who just finished reading a 500-page biography focused on the Red Sox owner, let’s just say that screaming “racism” doesn’t completely hold water.

Yes, the Red Sox were, in 1959, the last team in the American League to integrate (unless you count Latino players, of whom they had several early on). And yes, Jackie Robinson, who tried out for the Red Sox long before he became a Dodger, in his later years really seemed to go out of his way to publicly castigate Yawkey. But overall, the Yawkey relationship to race, personal and professional, seems to be more complicated than simplistic allegations allow for in our current, decidedly curious and assuredly unforgiving times.

So maybe removal of the Yawkey street name was a tad knee-jerk and lacking in nuance. Not as knee-jerk as Philadelphia removing the statue of Kate Smith (the acclaimed singer and 1970s good-luck charm for the Flyers), but knee-jerk, nonetheless.

The positive news is it appears the pendulum is decidedly swinging back to some equilibrium on the social and political front, and some understanding that we are all sinners in one way or another. The bad news? Lather, rinse, repeat – we just keep swinging from one extreme to the other, over and over again, learning next to nothing along the way. ☹

  • Scott McCaffrey
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