30 December 2013

a black armband for tom yawkey

tom yawkey owned the boston red sox from february of 1933 until his death in july of 1976.  in his memory, the red sox added a black armband to their jerseys, as seen on bobby darwin's 1977 topps card.
jackie robinson referred to yawkey as 'one of the most bigoted men in baseball' due to yawkey's opposition to integrating the red sox and a charade of a tryout that robinson had with the team in 1945.  it wasn't until 1959 that the red sox had an african-american player - pumpsie green - and racism was thought to have continued to play a part in the team's roster make up even after that.  still, yawkey was posthumously named to the hall of fame in 1980.

as for darwin, he joined the red sox about a month before yawkey died, and was traded to the cubs about a year later.  i had never really taken a close look at darwin's card before prepping it for this post. the back is pretty interesting.
darwin went several seasons between his debut in 1962 and his next appearance in 1969.  and, tommy lasorda gets a mention for converting darwin into a position player.  a little more digging shows that darwin debuted as a 19-year old pitcher for the angels, getting the start in the final game of the 1962 season. he struck out 6 in 3.1 innings, but also gave up 6 runs (4 earned) and took the loss.  the dodgers picked him up in the 1968 rule v draft, and gave him another shot as a hurler.  of those 6 games that show up in his stats, 3 were appearances as a pitcher, and 3 came as a pinch runner.  after posting a high era in those appearances, darwin was sent down to the minors - the dodgers' aaa team in spokane - where lasorda was his manager.  darwin remained on the pitching staff, but did play one game in the outfield, according to baseball reference.  in 1970, he was sent to single a ball to really learn the outfield.  his manager there was don lejohn who probably deserves more credit than lasorda for the transformation.  darwin did return to spokane and lasorda in 1971 before getting the call up to the majors.  he had some decent offensive years for the twins, but led the american league in strikeouts in each of his full seasons in minnesota.

the armband is also visible on the '77 cards of dwight evans and carlton fist, but i figured darwin makes a good representative of the memorial, even though his card is the least visually appealing of the three.

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