MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Twins announced on Juneteenth that they’ve removed a statue of former owner Calvin Griffith from Target Field over racist comments he made in the 1970s.
Griffith, the man credited with moving the franchise to Minnesota in 1961, was memorialized with a statue at the ballpark in 2010, when Target Field opened in downtown Minneapolis.
The Twins say that while they acknowledge the role he played in the organization’s history, they can’t remain silent on racist comments he made in Waseca in 1978. During a speech at a Lion’s Club dinner, a reporter heard him say that he brought the team to Minnesota because there were few black people here.
“His disparaging words displayed a blatant intolerance and disregard for the black community that are the antithesis of what the Minnesota Twins stand for and value,” the team said, in a statement.
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) June 19, 2020
The team apologized for the pain that the statue of Griffith caused for people within the Twins organization and in the broader community.
“We cannot remove Calvin Griffith from the history of the Minnesota Twins, but we believe the removal of this statue is a necessary and important step in our ongoing commitment to provide a Target Field experience where every fan and employee feels safe and welcome,” the team said, adding: “Past, present or future, there is no place for racism, inequality and injustice in Twins Territory.”
Twins legend Rod Carew, who is black and played under Griffith at the time, said in a statement Friday that while he was angered by Griffith’s hurtful comments at the time, Griffith’s views on race changed over the years.
“In my view, Calvin made a horrible mistake while giving that speech in 1978. I have no idea what happened that day, but who among us has not made a mistake?” Carew said.
He added: “I have long forgiven Cal for his insensitive comments and do not believe he was a racist. That was not my personal experience with Calvin Griffith – prior to or following that day in 1978.”
The removal of the statue comes after the Pohlad family, which currently owns the team, pledged to spend $25 million to push for racial justice in the Twin Cities in the wake of George Floyd’s death.