The New York Yankees could be the next victim of 2020’s accountability revolution.
A social media uprising has led to statues being removed and celebrities being ‘canceled’ across the world. The movement has spread to sports, from statues of controversial figures to increased demands that teams change their names and logos.
The Yankees honor their greatest players, coaches, and figures in Monument Park. Could 2020’s accountability revolution affect who and what is located in Monument Park?
The ‘accountability revolution’ is now impacting sports
The 2020s are already proving to be a decade of activism and change.
Although the ‘accountability revolution’ is mainly affecting historical figures and the entertainment business, sports aren’t escaping scot-free. The Washington Redskins recently removed a statue of longtime owner George Preston Marshall.
Marshall was the last NFL owner to integrate his franchise. The Redskins also removed his name from the team’s Ring of Fame.
Conversations about teams like the Braves, Indians, and Redskins changing their names have persisted in recent weeks.
The New York Yankees honor their greats in Monument Park
Instead of statues around Yankee Stadium, the Yankees have honored their greatest figures in Monument Park for nearly 100 years.
The open-air museum originally had monuments of manager Miller Huggins, first baseman Lou Gehrig, and outfielder Babe Ruth in center field. Plaques featuring Yankees legends Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio were placed on the stadium’s center-field wall.
When the Yankees renovated their home ballpark in the mid-1970s, the plaques were moved to an area behind the field of play. The plaques and monuments have sat in a similar area since the new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009.
Thirty-seven figures affiliated with the Yankees are enshrined in Monument Park.
The museum also has a plaque for Dodgers second baseman Jackie Robinson, the first Black player in modern MLB history.
Monument Park also includes plaques for Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI; victims and rescue workers of the September 11 attacks; Nelson Mandela; and the Stonewall Inn Uprising.
Will the New York Yankees need to change Monument Park?
Some of the greatest players in Major League Baseball history are enshrined in Monument Park. They were also greatly flawed and controversial figures.
Ex-Yankees teammates Billy Martin and Mickey Mantle were notorious womanizers who struggled with alcoholism. Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton revealed in his tell-all book, Ball Four, that Mantle spied on women from hotels.
Joe DiMaggio bullied and harassed Marilyn Monroe, according to the 2014 book Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love. The two had a brief marriage in the 1950s.
Former Yankees closer Goose Gossage has made disparaging comments in recent years about Latin players like Jose Bautista and Yoenis Cespedes for not “playing the game right.”
Legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera supported President Donald Trump in July 2019 and said he “respect[s]” what Trump has done in office. Trump awarded Rivera the Presidental Medal of Freedom in September 2019.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame recently announced that former Redskins owner George Preston Marshall will remain in the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame told Pro Football Talk that “nothing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s bylaws allows for the removal of a Hall member.”
But by removing the statue and Marshall’s name from the Ring of Fame, the Redskins already effectively erased all history of the team’s founder.
Could the Yankees do the same with their legends? It would be a controversial move for a franchise that lives on the accomplishments of yesteryear.
The Yankees may want to make a decision soon, though. The accountability revolution is moving full-steam ahead and Monument Park may be next.