Another statue in Minnesota is taken down.
Unlike when protesters pulled a likeness of Christopher Columbus from a pedestal in front of the state capitol building, this time it’s a legendary sports team owner whose racially insensitive comments angered many.
The Twins on Friday announced the removal of a statue of Calvin Griffith from the plaza outside Target Field, some 42 years after he made those comments to a group in Waseca.
In that group was the late Nick Coleman, a reporter for what was then known as the Minneapolis Tribune, who documented the comments that were made Sept. 28, 1978:
"At that point Griffith interrupted himself, lowered his voice and asked if there were any blacks around. After he looked around the room and assured himself that his audience was white, Griffith resumed his answer. 'I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota,' he said. '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.' "
The comments drew wide criticism, including from Twins all-star Rod Carew, and it was said that the incident haunted Griffith for the rest of his life.
In a statement, the Twins revealed the reason for removing the statue.
"Our decision to memorialize Calvin Griffith with a statue reflects an ignorance on our part of systemic racism present in 1978, 2010 and today. We apologize for our failure to adequately recognize how the statue was viewed and the pain it caused for many people – both inside the Twins organization and across Twins Territory. We cannot remove Calvin Griffith from the history of the Minnesota Twins, but we believe removal of this statue is an important and necessary step in our ongoing commitment to provide a Target Field experience where every fan and employee feels safe and welcome. Past, present or future, there is no place for racism, inequality and injustice in Twins Territory.”
Griffth was one of nine people memorialized with statues on Target Plaza. It was located outside of gate 29, beyond right field, and was dedicated Sep. 3, 2010 at the tail-end of Target Field's first season.
He is also a member of the Twins Hall of Fame, part of the inaugural class of 2000.
Griffith's family owned the original Washington Senators since 1919, and he was in control when the franchise shifted to the Twin Cities for the 1961 season.
He continued to own the Twins until 1984, when the team was sold to Carl Pohlad.
Griffith died in 1999 at the age of 87.