The Twins once had a racist owner too, and his statue stands outside Target Field

CalvinGriffith.jpg
Rick Prescott
Calvin Griffith is immortalized with this statue outside Target Field.
-- Update at bottom --

In light of the furor Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling generated with racist remarks he made during a recent phone conversation with his girlfriend (listen to the audio here), it's worth noting that the Minnesota Twins once had a racist owner as well.

In 1978, Calvin Griffith, owner of the Twins from the franchise's inception until 1984, told members of the Waseca Lions Club that he moved the team from Washington, D.C. to Minnesota because there are relatively few black people here.

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Griffith's comments were unearthed this week by veteran Twin Cities journalist Nick Coleman, who actually covered the September 1978 Lions Club meeting for the Minneapolis Star.

Asked during the meeting why he moved the Twins to Minnesota in 1961, Griffith uncorked a racist response suggesting he was unaware any journalists were in the audience.

"I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota," Griffith said, according to Coleman's report (read the whole thing here). "It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don't go to ball games, but they'll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it'll scare you to death. It's unbelievable. We came here because you've got good, hardworking, white people here."

To give you a sense of how attitudes about racism have changed since then, consider that after those remarks were reported, Griffith continued to own the Twins for six more years. Conversely, within days of the Sterling audio hitting the internet, he was banned from the NBA for life.

It appears every single owner in the NBA supports Commissioner Adam Silver's decision to banish Griffith, including Glen Taylor.

"The Timberwolves stand firmly in full support of the swift and impactful action taken today by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver," Taylor said in a statement issued through the team yesterday. "His leadership and direction in this matter is completely appropriate and appreciated by the Timberwolves organization. We stand unified with Commissioner Silver today and reaffirm our organization's zero tolerance approach to the type of reprehensible behavior which caused this action."

Silver's decision to ban Sterling for life may have prevented dramatic scenes from unfolding at NBA arenas last night. For instance, the Golden State Warriors reportedly were planning to walk off the floor at the beginning of their playoff game against Sterling's Clippers if Silver decided upon anything less than the maximum punishment.

So while it's a bummer that there's still at least one racist owner of a major professional sports team in 2014, at least progress has been made insofar as society doesn't tolerate it anymore.

:::: UPDATE ::::

Lest people think racist comments like the ones Griffin made weren't a big deal back in 1978, Coleman, reached for comment this afternoon, says they generated "a media shitstorm" at the time.

Then a Rochester-based correspondent for the Star, Coleman says he was at the Waseca Lions Club meeting hanging out with personal connections, not on assignment as a reporter. He didn't even have a notebook with him. But as Griffin launched into his racist rant, Coleman started jotting down notes on a napkin.

Coleman says Griffin's comments obviously made other people at the meeting uncomfortable. His editor quickly green-lighted a story about Griffin's remarks when Coleman told him about them the next day.

The story ran in the Sunday paper on the last day of the Twins' disappointing 1978 season. Coleman says he remembers driving around that Sunday and hearing Twins radio broadcaster Herb Carneal talk about how some Twins players might boycott the team's final game in protest.

Rod Carew was one of them. Carew eventually changed his mind and played, but he signed with the California Angels that offseason and would never again suit up for the team.

Coleman recalls that Twins players weren't the only ones upset by Griffin's comments.

(For more, click to page two.)


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119 comments
Rich Rudin
Rich Rudin

Why are there so many ads for hookers in the back of your publication City Pages Minneapolis?

Rich Rudin
Rich Rudin

I had to look him up on Google to see what color he was LOL

Rich Rudin
Rich Rudin

Can we find not find any newsworthy items?

Greg Jorgensen
Greg Jorgensen

Wow! I knew Calvin was a dink, but I never knew the extent.

Brandy Maddox
Brandy Maddox

I guess it doesnt matter he was racist because it was ok for the times then and now because he's dead? Wow some people will never really understand what its like. It's easy to just dimiss is as oh thats how how it was back then cause you arent the ones being discriminated against....somethings will never change

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

Some Things Never Change. 

Dee Finkelson
Dee Finkelson

Is it true or not?...if its true, u mad, bro?...lol

FuckTheDFL
FuckTheDFL

So Aaron Rupar, why did you remove my comment regarding Lyndon Johnson's quote? Does the truth offend you?

Brian Carpenter
Brian Carpenter

Let's have a little perspective here people. You're vilifying a long-dead person who made what were, at the time, socially acceptable statements. Imposing contemporary standards on historical figures is moronic and unfair. They are all products of their time and place... same as us. Are you all so certain that nothing you've ever said or done will be considered despicable years/decades/centuries from now?

Stefanie Megan Brown
Stefanie Megan Brown

Good idea....let's forget about history so we can do and say a bunch of ignorant shit again and again and again.......Donald Sterling is still acting an ass in 2014. Stop excusing it please.

Michael Marshall
Michael Marshall

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a known sexist at a pretty extreme level. Let's banish him on today's standards. No? I thought not. Grow up.

Catherine Pierson
Catherine Pierson

If you took down every thing that has to do with disliking one race or another nothing would stand everyone has their faults and as always things change over time so let go of the past and focus on the now!

senatortombstone
senatortombstone

Griffith was just being honest when he made those comments, unlike most of the white hypocrites who denounced him in public, while likely sharing those same sentiments in private. All one has to do is look to where one CHOOSES to reside. The left loves to extol the virtues of diversity from the safety of their ivory towers in the big cities or from their middle class suburbs. However, few who have the means to choose choose to live in or near the ghettos, projects, or section 8. Most people prefer to live in close proximity with members of their own race, religion, class, etc. acting on this natural human tendency is not immoral.

Harold Torres
Harold Torres

I heard Washington's slaves and Jefferson's slaves had special names for them....Daddy.

Don Ostertag
Don Ostertag

He would never allow an odd number of blacks on his team because that would mean that a black would have to room with a white on the road.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

Newsworthy enough for you to read and comment.


FuckTheDFL
FuckTheDFL

And fuck criminals like you. You do realize my tax dollars pays for your "free shit"?

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@FuckTheDFL  I'd guess it's because your so-called quote is a fucking lie perpetrated by a-holes like Faux News, Rush Limbaugh and other such idiotic sources. Look it up if you have the mental ability to do so.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

Read Michael Marshall's comment below, then stop saying stupid shit. All. The. Time. 

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

haha. he does


MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@FuckTheDFL  Please learn proper English - ..."my tax dollars pay for...  P.S. You have to have a job to pay taxes. I can't believe anyone would hire you let alone keep you employed after listening to the bile that pours out of your mouth.


MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@FuckTheDFL @MNjoe  That's just the type of intelligent response I expected from a mental patient like yourself. Must be a sad hateful world you live in - well, remember, if you ever decide to take that first step and get some help. ObamaCare is there for even you. 

FuckTheDFL
FuckTheDFL

Johnson was a racist. Pure and simple. Why don't YOU go and google it, twatwaffle. Or do you need Big Government to help you do that too? 

senatortombstone
senatortombstone

Lol! Doubtlessly true. The sad thing is that he would readily crucify one of his own for expressing aloud what he himself believes.

FuckTheDFL
FuckTheDFL

@mingtran He's 50 years old and still rents. That says something about his place on the totem pole of life. If his precious DFL makes his life so much better, why is he still renting and riding the bus? Because he is a fucking loser and that's where the DFL politicians want him to be. They promise him a better life by voting for them, but year after year (in this case, 30 years) he is in the same place that he was back when he was 20: A fucking loser who rents and still rides the bus. He hates the fact that men young enough to be his son make 20 times the amount that he does. They live in luxury condos, drive $50k (or more) SUV's while poor Loser MNJoe puts quarters into a farebox to get to the highlight of his week: White Castle. And the one on Lake St. at that. The only pussy he has ever seen was the huge gaping cunt that he crawled out of when he was born. It's too bad his whore mother wasn't raped by some black guy when she was carrying him. It would have been fun to watch his big black cock penetrate MNJoe's soft spot. But MNJoe doesn't have a brain to begin with. He's afterbirth. LOL! 


FuckTheDFL
FuckTheDFL

@mingtran I disagree. He's good at allowing himself to be brainwashed and collecting a check from the government while blaming all the producers of society for his status as a failure in life. 

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

@MNjoe Yes! I knew that would be your only comeback. Sniveling little coward with no substance. Go worship your gods you freakin racist tool.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@mingtran @MNjoe  What is "seperate"? Please learn to spell and speak proper English. You can get free GED courses around the metro.  P.S. You're full of shit - your record verifies it. 

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

@MNjoe You seperate and divide by race, gender and class. Your record proves it. I wish to integrate and treat everyone the same. My record proves it. You're the the racist one. Pretty simple and verifiable.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@FuckTheDFL  Maybe because those votes occurred in the 30s, 40s and 50s? And yes, he had a choice. Minorities primarily vote D because they can see what a bunch of lying snakes the Republican'ts are - how's that war economy working out for you?  P.S. Who's gonna beat Hillary in '16? Gonna run Mitt again? Bwahahahaha!  Loser. 

FuckTheDFL
FuckTheDFL

@MNjoe Why don't you go and Google his record as a congressman? Look at how many times he voted AGAINST civil rights and desegregation. He only helped pass JFK's Civil Right's Bill because he had no other fucking choice but to do so. The only thing his "Great Society" did was to develop an underclass of minorities who depend on the government in exchange for votes. You know that goddamn as well as I do. Luckily minorities are now waking up and realizing what a scam the DFL actually is. Your Hero Obumder's approval ratings are at an all time low, especially among African Americans. You can say goodbye to the U.S. Senate this November. And you can say GOODBYE to your pipedream of Hilary in 2016. Americans were duped not once, but twice by Barry. They won't allow that lying hypocrite Hilary to carry on Oblunder's legacy. 

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@FuckTheDFL  P.S. The "quote" you cite is from a 1996 book, Inside the White House, by right-wing A-hole Ronald Kessler. The "quote" has never been corroborated by anyone else. But maybe you'd enjoy his 2004 book, A Matter of Character, in which he licks the boots of, and polishes the rod of war criminal George W. Bush. You remember, the guy who put the economy into the tank, added trillions to the debt with his two unfunded wars resulting in the deaths of thousands of American soldiers and the maiming of tens of thousands more.  I'll look for yours and Mingfuck's response. I'm sure it'll be as thought-provoking as his usual stupidity which can be seen by scrolling down. 

Crack that whip - give the past a slip...

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@FuckTheDFL   Right, the man who helped to pass JFK's landmark Civil Rights bill was a racist. Do you realize how utterly stupid you are?  (Sadly, you're too stupid to know how stupid you are.) The only racists I can see from here are you and your idiot pal mingtran, a couple of constantly whining racist trolls who probably worship people like Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling as right-wing heroes. 


mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

@FuckTheDFL  I've tried to post that same quote with the same result. Pussy ass excuse for an alt-weekly. We should create a new one.

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