Tom Yawkey buys Red Sox
The first two slides paint an ugly portrait of Tom Yawkey and decisions that based on our perspective are quite questionable, but the reality is Yawkey saved the team. Without Yawkey there would likely be a Red Sox team, but not in Boston. They were dead broke, with a wrecked ballpark, no fans, and a history of baseball cellar-dwelling when a 30-year-old Yawkey inherited his uncle’s wealth.
Yawkey bought the team in 1933 for a paltry $1.25 MM, but this was an age when the country was mired in the Great Depression and baseball was not excluded from the misery. How bad was it for the Red Sox? In 1926 part of the park burned down and was not rebuilt. The team had just finished a 43-111 season that was symptomatic of performances since the team was gutted more than a decade earlier.
Yawkey got to work and the first major construction was not the lineup – that would come later – but the playground. Fenway Park was going to be rebuilt almost from the ground up. In the middle of construction, another fire occurred, but this was Yawkey and Yawkey had something else to burn – money. Double shifts and get the job done.
The new and improved park – if you call those troughs in the men’s room state of the art – needed something on the field. The depression offered opportunities since other notable franchises were wallowing in debt and despair. In trades that were cash payments, Yawkey secured talent and not just any talent. Lefty Grove and Jimmie Foxx came to Boston among others.
The history of Yawkey is notorious as far as using money as a potential panacea for losing. The Red Sox reportedly had the highest payroll, spent lavishly on bonus players, and later dove full force into free agency. If a player had a price tag Yawkey would meet it.
The reinvigorating of the franchise in 1967 after several years of stagnation set in motion a mentality that exists today. The Red Sox invariably – even in their latest cost management phase – remains among the élite in payroll expenditures. The team also has returned to its roots of the early 20th century with Royal Rooters by the millions – all made possible by Yawkey.