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On Friday morning, the Minnesota Twins announced that they had removed the bronze statue of Calvin Griffith from outside Target Field.Last week, Nate Palmer wrote an article here at Twins Daily about the 1978 event in Waseca in which then owner Calvin Griffith, who brought the team to Minnesota from Washington DC in 1961, spoke to a group of citizens.

 

In his discussion with the Waseca Lions, Griffth was quoted as saying, "“I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks. Black people don’t go to ball games, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. It’s unbelievable. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking, white people here."

 

In addition, he chose to go after Hall of Famer Rod Carew, calling him a "fool" for taking the contract he did.

 

Carew released a statement, which you can read by clicking Aaron's tweet below. It begins:

 

"I understand and respect the Minnesota Twins decision to remove the Calvin Griffith statue outside Target Field. While I've always supported the Twins decision to honor Calvin with a statue, I also remember how inappropriate and hurtful his comments were on that fateful day in Waseca. The Twins did what they felt they needed to do for the organization and for our community. While we cannot change history, perhaps we can learn from it."

 

 

The decision to remove the statue continues a trend of the Twins doing great things in the organization and in the community including:

  • First team to announce they would not be releasing any minor leaguers and would continue to pay them through August.
  • Pohlad Family Foundation donated $25 million commitment to racial justice.

The Twins released the following statement in regard to their decision to remove the statue of Calvin Griffith.

 

“When we opened Target Field in 2010 in conjunction with our 50th season in Minnesota, we were excited and proud to welcome fans to our ‘forever ballpark.’ As such, we wanted to pay permanent tribute to those figures and moments that helped shape the first half-century of Minnesota Twins baseball – including a statue of Calvin Griffith, our former owner and the man responsible for moving the franchise here in 1961.

 

“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 disparaging words displayed a blatant intolerance and disregard for the Black community that are the antithesis of what the Minnesota Twins stand for and value.

 

“Our decision to memorialize Calvin Griffith with a statue reflects an ignorance on our part of systemic racism present in 1978, 2010 and today. We apologize for our failure to adequately recognize how the statue was viewed and the pain it caused for many people – both inside the Twins organization and across Twins Territory. We cannot remove Calvin Griffith from the history of the Minnesota Twins, but we believe removal of this statue is an important and necessary step in our ongoing commitment to provide a Target Field experience where every fan and employee feels safe and welcome.

 

“Past, present or future, there is no place for racism, inequality and injustice in Twins Territory.”

 

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I don't know how the Twins could expect Black fans to feel welcomed at Target Field with that statue standing outside the stadium. To me, this is what removing the statue is all about. It's not to wip

I think everyone should read Rod Carew's full statement. I lifted this from the Pioneer Press web site.   Rod Carew’s full statement: “I understand and respect the Minnesota Twins’ decision to remove

Calvin’s father, Clark Griffith, was a former MLB player, manager, and owner who truly loved baseball and never moved a franchise from it’s city. And as far as I know, wasn’t an avowed racist.    Calv

Judas Iscariot probably did a good job during most of his tenure as a disciple, but one or two acts toward the end of his career kind of ruined his reputation. I'd be uncomfortable going to a church that had a statue specifically honoring him - it would make me wonder about their priorities.

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This is dumb and shows that this new movement has not concept of what racism is.  

 

The Twins are ignoring the TOTALITY of Calvin Griffith's life and only focusing on one incident that occurred around 50 years ago.  Expecting that a man born in 1911, like Calvin was, to behave and use the same language as a person more than one hundred years after his death is idiotic and unfair.  

 

Times were different and unlike a lot of these racial-grammar editors, Calvin Griffith was in many ways a pioneer especially in the promotion of Cuban and other Latin American players.  Tony Oliva, Zoilo Versalles, Camilo Pascual, José Valdivielso, Pedro Ramos, Cesar Tovar, Rod ****ING Carew.   

 

The later era Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins have always been an integrated team to the fullest extent.  

 

Calvin Griffith was a baseball owner of a different era.  He wasn't a tech or banking billionaire who invested in a professional sports team for the prestige, tax write offs, and capital gains.  Baseball was his business.  

 

Removing his statue from outside of Target Field for some drunken remarks he made 50 years ago only brings into focus, what mistake or foible are they going to get to use against you.   

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As a student of history, I don't think removing history is ever a good idea.  I'm not super familiar with Calvin Griffith, so I don't know if this speech in 1978 was a bad day, or par for the course for him.  I do think it's interesting to realize that these comments probably didn't just come to light a couple of weeks ago--that means for years we could recognize the wrongness of what he said, but judge him as a whole, not for a moment in time; we seem to have lost that capability of discernment as a society in the last 4 weeks.

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I don't know if all the statue toppling we see these days is the right thing to do or not. I'm ok with it and for sure some of them have to go. Griffith was pretty abhorrent but I wonder if there is a better way. Tell the story..."Here's the racist owner who moved the team to MN. Let's let this statue remind us to keep ever vigilant to let no more racists be part of this team." Make it not a statue of pride, but of precaution, a lesson learned...I don't know, maybe that's too simple and the imagery is just too charged to change the perception. I know some will feel it doesn't go far enough and maybe it doesn't, but just disapearing the statue doesn't make the issue go away, just makes it a bit easier not to think about. 

 

But just to be clear, I am against statues for racists.

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I don't know how the Twins could expect Black fans to feel welcomed at Target Field with that statue standing outside the stadium. To me, this is what removing the statue is all about. It's not to wipe Griffith or that incident from the history books, it's to avoid the appearance that the organization still celebrates a man who didn't welcome the Black community to be a part of the Twins experience.

 

An article on Griffith's remarks was published on the front page of the Star Tribune Oct. 1, 1978. That's 1A, not just the front page of the sports section. So it's not like this incident was recently brought to light.

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This is dumb and shows that this new movement has not concept of what racism is.  

 

The Twins are ignoring the TOTALITY of Calvin Griffith's life and only focusing on one incident that occurred around 50 years ago.  Expecting that a man born in 1911, like Calvin was, to behave and use the same language as a person more than one hundred years after his death is idiotic and unfair.  

 

Times were different and unlike a lot of these racial-grammar editors, Calvin Griffith was in many ways a pioneer especially in the promotion of Cuban and other Latin American players.  Tony Oliva, Zoilo Versalles, Camilo Pascual, José Valdivielso, Pedro Ramos, Cesar Tovar, Rod ****ING Carew.   

 

The later era Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins have always been an integrated team to the fullest extent.  

 

Calvin Griffith was a baseball owner of a different era.  He wasn't a tech or banking billionaire who invested in a professional sports team for the prestige, tax write offs, and capital gains.  Baseball was his business.  

 

Removing his statue from outside of Target Field for some drunken remarks he made 50 years ago only brings into focus, what mistake or foible are they going to get to use against you.   

Calvin’s father, Clark Griffith, was a former MLB player, manager, and owner who truly loved baseball and never moved a franchise from it’s city. And as far as I know, wasn’t an avowed racist. 
 

Calvin was a racist who inherited his daddy’s franchise and got rich off it. 

 

P.s. removing a statue that was built 10 years ago isn’t “erasing history”. Neither is removing statues built in the 50s to intimidate the Civil Rights movement. 
 

Honoring and whitewashing the deeds of awful humans with statues is erasing history. 

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I don't know if all the statue toppling we see these days is the right thing to do or not. I'm ok with it and for sure some of them have to go. Griffith was pretty abhorrent but I wonder if there is a better way. Tell the story..."Here's the racist owner who moved the team to MN. Let's let this statue remind us to keep ever vigilant to let no more racists be part of this team." Make it not a statue of pride, but of precaution, a lesson learned...I don't know, maybe that's too simple and the imagery is just too charged to change the perception. I know some will feel it doesn't go far enough and maybe it doesn't, but just disapearing the statue doesn't make the issue go away, just makes it a bit easier not to think about. 

 

But just to be clear, I am against statues for racists.

Calvin Griffith was not a racist.  In fact, for his time he was rather cutting edge.  His baseball teams were fully integrated and he was cutting edge in signing Latin American players.  The fact he grew up and lived in a completely different era than we do today does not make him a racist.

 

ALL OF THESE HOLIER THAN THOUS POINTING FINGERS AT PEOPLE ARE THE REAL PROBLEM.  

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Calvin Griffith was not a racist.  In fact, for his time he was rather cutting edge.  His baseball teams were fully integrated and he was cutting edge in signing Latin American players.  The fact he grew up and lived in a completely different era than we do today does not make him a racist.

 

ALL OF THESE HOLIER THAN THOUS POINTING FINGERS AT PEOPLE ARE THE REAL PROBLEM.  

The fact that he was segregating his players into the 60s suggests he was racist. His comments in 1978 that were widely reported suggest that he was racist by the standards of the 1970s. 

 

I'm honestly surprised that so many people care about a 10 year old statute. 

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This is dumb and shows that this new movement has not concept of what racism is.  

 

The Twins are ignoring the TOTALITY of Calvin Griffith's life and only focusing on one incident that occurred around 50 years ago.  Expecting that a man born in 1911, like Calvin was, to behave and use the same language as a person more than one hundred years after his death is idiotic and unfair.  

 

Times were different and unlike a lot of these racial-grammar editors, Calvin Griffith was in many ways a pioneer especially in the promotion of Cuban and other Latin American players.  Tony Oliva, Zoilo Versalles, Camilo Pascual, José Valdivielso, Pedro Ramos, Cesar Tovar, Rod ****ING Carew.   

 

The later era Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins have always been an integrated team to the fullest extent.  

 

Calvin Griffith was a baseball owner of a different era.  He wasn't a tech or banking billionaire who invested in a professional sports team for the prestige, tax write offs, and capital gains.  Baseball was his business.  

 

Removing his statue from outside of Target Field for some drunken remarks he made 50 years ago only brings into focus, what mistake or foible are they going to get to use against you.   

Ah yes, Griffith clearly had the utmost respect for Rod ****ING Carew, who he called a fool in that same speech at the Waseca Lion's Club.

 

Regarding integration, the Twins were the last team still segregating its players during spring training of 1964. Here's a great article at Twins Trivia about that for anyone interested in learning more.

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I don't know how the Twins could expect Black fans to feel welcomed at Target Field with that statue standing outside the stadium. To me, this is what removing the statue is all about. It's not to wipe Griffith or that incident from the history books, it's to avoid the appearance that the organization still celebrates a man who didn't welcome the Black community to be a part of the Twins experience.

 

An article on Griffith's remarks was published on the front page of the Star Tribune Oct. 1, 1978. That's 1A, not just the front page of the sports section. So it's not like this incident was recently brought to light.

This is pretty well said. It's 2020. We should want people to feel comfortable at the park and feel included in our society. Getting rid of a stupid statute is an easy thing to do.

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First, I am for removal of all statutes that promote people that oppressed others, or backed the oppression of others.  To simply say, well it was that time, demesnes what people went through.  You can understand why they said what they said, but you do not need to honor them as well.  For people that believe we need to have these symbols for history purposes, there are places for them in museums for people to choose to see them, not in public accessed areas where you are forced to see them. 

 

It is important to learn from history, and you can use example like Mr. Griffith to learn from.  Mainly, that what you say and do can come back to haunt you years later.  Some may change their ways over the years and are not the same as the person who said or did what they are being condemned for, but you still cannot take back what you said or did. 

 

I personally had never heard of his comments back then, before I was born, and did not know that is what led to Carew being traded.  Not that I had high thoughts of Mr. Griffith to being with, but this lowers them even more.  Sure, you can say it was a different time and it was accepted to say those things back then so let it slide.  But if you let it slide now, then you will continue to let it slide and the message that is sent is that it is okay to say those things and not get any backlash for it.

 

The Twins made a decision to remove a statute because of one of three reasons.  Possible a little of all three.  One, they did it so prevent any negative press that would look bad in the future and hurt their bottom dollar.  Two, they wanted to make it be know they are forward thinking and accepting of social change, in hopes of getting good press to have people come to games in future to help their bottom dollar.  Three, they truly feel this is a good message to inform people that they will not tolerate any racists no matter when or by whom.  

 

Mr. Griffith's comments were over 40 years ago.  However, his words still get echoed by many people to this day.  He most likely was not an overt racist, as Rod Carew stated he did not believe Mr. Griffith was.  He seemed to be stating it was a business decision and it was a racially biased business decision.  It could have been stated they were moved because he believed there would be greater fan support and left it at that.  However, he basically called black people violent by stating they go see wrestling in stead of baseball.  This shows the ignorant racism that goes on in the country.  That is so deep in system that we just accept it.  I for one, and wish it did not have to be said as a white man, am glad light is finally being shined on some of these issues and people are finally willing to stand up against the racist white people, overt or covert, that let those words of hate fester and get desensitized to it until we just accept it. 

 

I am even more proud today to be a Twins fan than I ever have been.  If I had learned of the comments of Mr. Griffin before today even more so when the statute went up, something I barely knew of as well, I would have been ashamed to be a Twins fan. 

 

Racism was through baseball for a very long time. There is still very few black people that choose to play baseball compared to other sports.  It takes many generations for wounds to heal and to drive out the kind of thinking Mr. Griffin thought.  I am glad the Twins, without protest, decided to it. 

 

For the fans that are not happy, maybe you should take a good look in the mirror as to how you really feel about black people.  I personally hope it will drive you from going to games so I will not have to share the same space with you, and subject my family to your way of thinking.      

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Calvin Griffith was not a racist.  In fact, for his time he was rather cutting edge.  His baseball teams were fully integrated and he was cutting edge in signing Latin American players.  The fact he grew up and lived in a completely different era than we do today does not make him a racist.

 

ALL OF THESE HOLIER THAN THOUS POINTING FINGERS AT PEOPLE ARE THE REAL PROBLEM.  

I could just as easily say ALL OF THESE SELF RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE OPPOSING RENAMING BREAKFAST PRODUCTS AND TAKING DOWN STATUES OF CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS AND RACIST OWNERS, ETC. ARE THE REAL PROBLEM.   You are figuratively pointing your finger at those you imagine are pointing fingers.   Take another look at this quote  "I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks. Black people don’t go to ball games, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. It’s unbelievable. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking, white people here.""  You say he's not racist so please tell me what a person would have to say to be considered racist even given the context of that era..    No one is re writing history.   Those in power 80-100 years ago decided to honor particular people and symbols of history (confederacy)  just like 10 years ago those in power decided  to honor Griffith.    Nothing says we have to continue to honor those same people or symbols.   I have never understood how the confederate flag, statues or forts honoring leaders of an army that killed hundreds of thousands of United States military for the purpose of owning people have ever been allowed to exist.    This statue is less offensive to me and I would have been ok with it staying but understand how others want it removed so I am ok with it.      Honestly, I would be ok if every statue or monument was removed.   My life wouldn't be diminished in any way if Kirby or Harmon's statues were taken down.   I wonder why you are so strongly opposed to taking Griffith's down. 

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First, I am for removal of all statutes that promote people that oppressed others, or backed the oppression of others.

 

Does this include statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom owned slaves?  Should one of our states, and our nation's capitol city, be renamed?  Should the Declaration of Independence be removed from display?

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Ah yes, Griffith clearly had the utmost respect for Rod ****ING Carew, who he called a fool in that same speech at the Waseca Lion's Club.

 

Regarding integration, the Twins were the last team still segregating its players during spring training of 1964. Here's a great article at Twins Trivia about that for anyone interested in learning more.

 

From the context, it appears he called Carew a fool for accepting a $150k salary, implying that he thought Carew should have looked for more money--I'm not sure why that's so terrible.  If I'm missing something or misunderstanding the context, I reserve the right to change my take.

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I don't know how the Twins could expect Black fans to feel welcomed at Target Field with that statue standing outside the stadium. To me, this is what removing the statue is all about. It's not to wipe Griffith or that incident from the history books, it's to avoid the appearance that the organization still celebrates a man who didn't welcome the Black community to be a part of the Twins experience.

 

An article on Griffith's remarks was published on the front page of the Star Tribune Oct. 1, 1978. That's 1A, not just the front page of the sports section. So it's not like this incident was recently brought to light.

 

So for almost 42 years, we disliked Griffith's widely known comments, but didn't care enough to downplay his history with the team; quite the opposite, it was ensured his history with the team was preserved (or so it seemed).

 

If this statue truly makes black people uncomfortable, my question would be if it has always made them uncomfortable, or is that just happening now.  If the former, I would then ask if the Twins were told that, and chose not to act, or if it was just not brought up.  If the latter, I would ask why there are now uncomfortable feelings when none existed before.

 

Applying the current cultural lens to the past is a very good way to support the erasing of the past, which is well on the way to repeating the past.

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.  I do think it's interesting to realize that these comments probably didn't just come to light a couple of weeks ago--that means for years we could recognize the wrongness of what he said, but judge him as a whole, not for a moment in time; we seem to have lost that capability of discernment as a society in the last 4 weeks.

It was reported negatively in 1978. Said one businessman in attendance: "made it clear that although he doesn't have anything against blacks, he sure hates the poor bastards. I can see why he has trouble with some of his players after listening to him talk". That's a quote from the Minneapolis Tribune.

 

There was also a full length article in the StarTribune in 2014 by Howard Sinker: https://www.startribune.com/recalling-ex-twins-owner-griffith-s-bigoted-outburst/257189521/

 

It was also the lede in an SBNation article in 2014: https://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2014/5/1/5672616/donald-sterling-baseball-racist-owners-calvin-griffith-bowie-kuhn

 

In that article, he is quoted as saying "Why are you writing this kind of article that is so controversial? You are really causing a lot of friction. It's not good for baseball and it's not good for the people of Minnesota. The truth hurts a lot of people. And that's it."

 

There's a whole section devoted to this in a 2012 book: The National Pastime: Baseball in the Northstar State. Author Kevin Hennessy writes: "Personally, I have been working in Waseca the past three years, and it appears that even the most marginal baseball fan is aware of that story of that day. Few obituaries for Calvin in 1999 were run without mention of the Waseca talk being the low point in Calvin’s career, and his life."

 

As to the "saving grace" that he had Latino players on the club, he said this in 1978: "Why do we have colored ballplayers on our club? They are the best ones. If you don't have them, you're not going to win." Yeah, really sounds like he's fighting a blow for racial equality there.

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So for almost 42 years, we disliked Griffith's widely known comments, but didn't care enough to downplay his history with the team; quite the opposite, it was ensured his history with the team was preserved (or so it seemed).

 

If this statue truly makes black people uncomfortable, my question would be if it has always made them uncomfortable, or is that just happening now.  If the former, I would then ask if the Twins were told that, and chose not to act, or if it was just not brought up.  If the latter, I would ask why there are now uncomfortable feelings when none existed before.

 

Applying the current cultural lens to the past is a very good way to support the erasing of the past, which is well on the way to repeating the past.

Sports Illustrated ran an article today on a Black Twins fan who has been trying to get the statue removed for the past five or so years. 

 

 

From the context, it appears he called Carew a fool for accepting a $150k salary, implying that he thought Carew should have looked for more money--I'm not sure why that's so terrible.  If I'm missing something or misunderstanding the context, I reserve the right to change my take.

This is correct, however, the OP seemed to be trying to suggest Griffith had opened doors for Black players out of the goodness of his own heart. Griffith was notoriously cheap. Carew's comment in '78 was along the lines of I won't continue to be another slave on Griffith's plantation. 

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it is a good think to do.  Statues memorialize individuals in ways that nothing else does.  They are a presence and move from generation to generation.  We should be careful about who we put in bronze and there is nothing wrong with a little housekeeping that removes an old and now unwanted item. 

 

This does not remove him or his story from the history of the Twins, it merely removes the idol that people have to look at and walk by.  All of us who are serious Twins fans know who he is and what he did.  The Twins are here and that is all that is needed for his memorial.  Now we can look at Buxton, Rosario, Polanco, Arraez, Sano, and Cruz and realize that the racist statements of Griffith no longer fit our team and future.  

 

I might remind the younger readers that Calvin was not overly popular with the fans even in the sixties.

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I could just as easily say ALL OF THESE SELF RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE OPPOSING RENAMING BREAKFAST PRODUCTS AND TAKING DOWN STATUES OF CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS AND RACIST OWNERS, ETC. ARE THE REAL PROBLEM.   You are figuratively pointing your finger at those you imagine are pointing fingers.   Take another look at this quote  "I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks. Black people don’t go to ball games, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. It’s unbelievable. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking, white people here.""  You say he's not racist so please tell me what a person would have to say to be considered racist even given the context of that era..    No one is re writing history.   Those in power 80-100 years ago decided to honor particular people and symbols of history (confederacy)  just like 10 years ago those in power decided  to honor Griffith.    Nothing says we have to continue to honor those same people or symbols.   I have never understood how the confederate flag, statues or forts honoring leaders of an army that killed hundreds of thousands of United States military for the purpose of owning people have ever been allowed to exist.    This statue is less offensive to me and I would have been ok with it staying but understand how others want it removed so I am ok with it.      Honestly, I would be ok if every statue or monument was removed.   My life wouldn't be diminished in any way if Kirby or Harmon's statues were taken down.   I wonder why you are so strongly opposed to taking Griffith's down. 

 

I am not imagining the finger pointing of self righteous idiots who think removing a statue solves any of the real problems in the United States.  

 

AS far as the "segregating" players issue, big deal.  1964.   That is the year I was born.  Segregation in the South was still alive.  What is more important about 1964 was that my favorite Twin player of all time started his career with the Twins that is still ongoing:  Tony Oliva. 

 

AS far as being "strongly opposed" to taking down Griffith's statue,  it is ridiculous to be offended by something that was said more than 40 years ago by a man who was born more than 100 years ago.  If your life is looked at in such a narrow manner, you would not pass muster either.

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