The Twins removed the statue of former owner Calvin Griffith from in front of Target Field, citing racist comments he made in 1978. Griffith, who moved the franchise from Washington, D.C., to Minnesota in 1961, was honored with a statue (along with six others) when Target Field opened in 2010.
Speaking to the Lions Club in Waseca in 1978, Griffith called first baseman Rod Carew a “damn fool” for having accepted the salary that he did. Griffith also said he made the decision to move his team to Minnesota after finding out, “you only had 15,000 blacks here.” Griffith’s comments were reported by Nick Coleman of the Minneapolis Tribune.
The Twins’ statement on Friday read: “When we opened Target Field in 2010 in conjunction with our 50th season in Minnesota, we were excited and proud to welcome fans to our ‘forever ballpark.’ As such, we wanted to pay permanent tribute to those figures and moments that helped shape the first half-century of Minnesota Twins baseball – including a statue of Calvin Griffith, our former owner and the man responsible for moving the franchise here in 1961.
“While we acknowledge the prominent role Calvin Griffith played in our history, we cannot remain silent and continue ignoring the racist comments he made in Waseca in 1978. 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.
“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.”
Griffith passed away on Oct. 20, 1999 at the age of 87.