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1933 - 1976

Thomas Austin Yawkey

Just four days after celebrating his 30th birthday, Thomas A. Yawkey, an entrepreneur and businessman, purchased the Red Sox from J.A. Robert Quinn on February 25, 1933. A Yale University graduate, Tom Yawkey had grown up around professional baseball players because his uncle and adoptive father, Bill Yawkey, had owned the Detroit Tigers during the early years of the 20th century. When Bill passed away from the Spanish Flu in 1919, Tom inherited millions of dollars, but a clause in his father's will prevented the young man from taking control of the money until he turned 30.

Once he gained control of his new team and fortune, Tom Yawkey immediately devoted himself to improving his team on the field and renovating Fenway Park. Following the 1933 season, Yawkey undertook ambitious plans to level the 10-foot incline in left field known as Duffy's Cliff and replace the 25-foot high fence with an even higher concrete wall. In addition to improvements to the left-field wall, Yawkey replaced the wooden bleachers throughout the park with remodeled steel and concrete sections in the expanded left and right-field grandstands. Yawkey also remodeled and expanded the front offices, concession stands, employee rooms and press box.

During Yawkey's massive reconstruction of Fenway Park, a fire broke out on January 5, 1934 and destroyed a significant portion of the ballpark and the new construction projects that were underway. Undeterred, Yawkey only intensified the construction efforts and the "new" Fenway Park opened in time for the start of the 1934 season.

Yawkey brought the same enthusiasm that he displayed in renovating Fenway Park into improving the team on the field as well. Sparing no expense, he signed free agents and drafted promising stars. He was also well-known for being generous to his players and devoting himself to philanthropic endeavors, such as the team's legendary partnership with the Jimmy Fund, an unparalleled relationship that started in 1953 and continues to this day. During Yawkey's 43-year ownership tenure, the Red Sox won American League pennants in 1946, 1967 and 1975, but in each World Series his team fell short in a heartbreaking seventh game.

Tom Yawkey passed away on July 9, 1976, having owned the club for a longer period than any other Red Sox owner in team history. Unfortunately, he never witnessed his beloved Red Sox win a World Championship. The following year, the section of Jersey Street bordering Fenway Park between Van Ness Street and Brookline Avenue was renamed Yawkey Way in his honor. Today, and since the ballpark opened in 1912, most fans entering Fenway Park do so from this street that bears his name.

The Red Sox Hall of Fame at Fenway Park (Credit: Mike Ivins/Boston Red Sox)