As past monuments get reevaluated all over, the Minnesota Twins have removed the statue of former owner Calvin Griffith.
The current world climate has many organizations and sports teams reevaluating who or what they’ve paid tribute to. On Friday morning, the Minnesota Twins announced they have removed the statue of former team owner Calvin Griffith outside Target Field.
Griffith moved the franchise from Washington to Minnesota in 1961. The opening of Target Field in 2010 coincided with the 50th season in Minnesota, so honoring team history with a statue of Griffith seemed appropriate.
But Griffith’s racist comments at a banquet in 1978 have surfaced again (as recalled by the Minneapolis Star Tribune). For some extra context, Griffith was asked about rumors at the time of the team relocating to New Orleans. He seemed conscious of the high percentage of black and minority population there, before saying….
“I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota,” Griffith said in 1978, according to Howard Sinker of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. 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.”
Griffith said all that in 1978.
Stories of Griffith’s stinginess as Twins’ owner are prevalent, and almost humorous in the right light. A subsequent unwillingness to pay players was easy for him (see the story of Bert Blyleven appearing to send a profane gesture to the owner’s box as he left the mound the night before he was traded to the Texas Rangers in 1976).
“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,” the team’s statement read. “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.”