The Twin Cities became the center of the country almost a month ago with the killing of George Floyd. In the weeks since, that act has challenged the entire country’s thoughts and ideas surrounding race in this country.
While mindsets have been changing, physical change has been demanded by many as well. It’s something the Minnesota Twins have been quick to jump into, both from a player and organizational standpoint.
At the end of May, some Twins players, past and present, spoke out about George Floyd, as well as their own stories of racial injustice and prejudice throughout their lives. Center fielder Byron Buxton posted to Instagram multiple times demanding change and justice, but his first post after George Floyd was killed demanded progress and justice for Floyd.
Former center fielder Torii Hunter recounted specific instances of racism towards him in Boston through his years in MLB in a story on Sports Illustrated on June 5, and discussed an incident where a policeman drew a gun on him in his house while he was living in Anaheim on The Athletic. He also posted to his Instagram trying to deal with negativity towards him and other black men by building each other up with more positivity.
Beyond players, current manager Rocco Baldelli spoke out on the topic as well on Twitter.
Last week the Twins also announced they would remove the statue of former owner Calvin Griffith in front of Target Field.
The racist comments he made at a Waseca Lions Club in 1978 while he still owned the Twins, disparaging the black community in Minnesota, were cited as the reasoning for the eventual decision. Over the years, as those remarks from Griffith resurfaced, more and more opposition to the statue grew.
The statue debuted when Target Field opened in 2010, but opposition came to a forefront with a Vice article calling for the statue to come down back in 2015. Since then, pressure to take it down has mounted.
Griffith’s comments were so inflammatory at the time that All-Star Rod Carew said he wouldn’t re-sign with the Twins because of the statements, according to a 2010 MinnPost article with some of his comments from that year and a 2014 Star Tribune piece reflecting on Griffith’s remarks. True to Carew’s word, he never played for the Twins beyond 1978.
Before the Twins decided to remove the Griffith statue, the Pohlad family committed $25 million to racial justice in the metro area.
Right away, the statement said the Pohlads will be getting to work providing help to people, communities and businesses who have suffered recently. In addition to that, the Pohlads said they will match employee contributions and donation, while also encouraging their employees to volunteer and be active in helping the community in the future. (Take a look at the full press release from the Pohlad Foundation here.)
The statement went on to say the Pohlads “will partner with other equally committed organizations to help change the systems that create racial inequities and marginalize people of color” for a new long-standing goal of the foundation.