The death of George Floyd sparked protests of racial inequality across the U.S. and brought new notoriety to Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of slaves in America. Many corporations treated it as a company holiday; others made moves to shift away from racist figures of the past. The Minnesota Twins were in the latter group, as they celebrated Juneteenth by making a big change at Target Field.
The Minnesota Twins remove a statue of Calvin Griffith
Calvin Griffith owned the Twins from 1955 to 1984 and is credited with the team’s 1961 move from Washington, D.C., to Minnesota, according to CBS Sports. When the Twins opened Target Field in 2010, they paid tribute to Griffith by erecting a statue of him outside the stadium.
But Griffith made racist remarks during a speech he gave to the Lions Club in 1978. So, on Juneteenth, the team released a statement announcing the statue’s removal. The franchise stated it’s “an important and necessary step in our ongoing commitment to provide a Target Field experience where every fan and employee feels safe and welcome.”
Another baseball team follows the Twins’ lead
The Twins aren’t the only baseball team with a history of figures who have showcased racial insensitivity. Other teams could use the Twins removing the Griffith statue as an example of how they can change. A college baseball team has just done this.
Marge Schott is a former owner of the Reds who is well-known for having used racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic slurs in her life. She was also a generous donor to the University of Cincinnati. In 2006 the school named its ballpark Marge Schott Stadium in her honor. But that will no longer be the case.
CNN reports the school’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to remove her name from the stadium, as well as a section in the university’s archives library. Current student-athletes and alumni circulated a petition calling for the stadium to be renamed. The school obliged, with university president Neville G. Pinto saying, “Marge Schott’s record of racism and bigotry stands at stark odds with our University’s core commitment to dignity, equity and inclusion.”
The Twins and the 2020 MLB season
With the league finally announcing that there will officially be a season, where do the Twins stand? With a shortened 60-game slate, the team will play all games against their four division rivals in the American League Central and the five teams in the National League Central.
This should present an easy schedule for the Twins. The team will play bottom-feeder teams like the Royals, Tigers, and Pirates. Minnesota needs an easy schedule like this; they don’t have the best roster in the majors, especially on the mound.
The team doesn’t have a true ace in the rotation. Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi line up to be atop the rotation. And other mid-tier pitchers like Homer Bailey and Kenta Maeda are expected to land among their other starters.
The Twins should be able to close out games when they have a lead. Taylor Rogers — who earned 30 saves last season — can hold down the closer’s role. Miguel Sano, Josh Donaldson, and Marwin Gonzalez lead the offense in the shortened season.