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Yawkey Way Might Go, But The Yawkey Morse Code On The Green Monster Will Stay

Tom and Jean Yawkey's initials depicted in Morse code line the white stripes separating the American League scores on the Green Monster at Fenway Park. (Winslow Townson/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Tom and Jean Yawkey's initials depicted in Morse code line the white stripes separating the American League scores on the Green Monster at Fenway Park. (Winslow Townson/AP)

Much has been made about the Red Sox seeking to strip the name Yawkey from the street just outside the ballpark.

Red Sox owner John Henry has reportedly said he's "haunted" by the racist past of the team under former owner Tom Yawkey. The team last week formally filed a petition with the city to have Yawkey Way returned to its former name, Jersey Street.

But a much more subtle tribute to Tom Yawkey and his wife Jean is staying. On the white stripes separating the columns of American League scores on the Green Monster are a few dots and dashes — Morse code spelling out Tom and Jean Yawkey's initials.

In an email Monday, Red Sox spokeswoman Zineb Curran said there are no plans to remove the Morse code:

The petition [to rename Yawkey Way] is an effort to continue to work towards inclusion at Fenway Park, not an effort to erase the Yawkey legacy from the ballpark entirely. The name on our front door is very different from other areas of Fenway Park that showcase the history of the Yawkey era. We have no plans to remove other references or tributes to him.

Tom Yawkey owned the team from 1933 until his death in 1976, when Jean Yawkey took over. She died in 1992. In 2002, the current ownership group led by Henry bought the team.

The Red Sox were the last team in the major leagues to integrate in 1959. Yawkey had turned down signing Jackie Robinson 14 years earlier.

The charitable Yawkey Foundations says it's "deeply disappointed" about the proposed street name change, saying it's based on a "false narrative" about Yawkey and his record as team owner.

In an extended statement, the Yawkey Foundations mentions the Morse code. In 2012, when the team was seeking to put Fenway on the National Register of Historic Places, the foundation says the Red Sox noted Yawkey's tenure as owner and described the ballpark's "unique characteristics," including the Morse code initials.

"Clearly, Tom Yawkey’s achievements during his historic 43-year ownership of the Red Sox were integral to Henry’s success in obtaining the designation, and a similar one from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, which has resulted in more than $80 million in state and federal tax credits for the Red Sox," the statement says.

Related:

Ally Jarmanning Twitter Digital Producer
Ally is a reporter who champions data and public records in the WBUR newsroom.

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