After his apartment in Minneapolis, a three-kilometer straight line drew on Chicago Avenue from the intersection where another man by the name of George Floyd was killed by a white policeman on May 25, Tucker was galvanized by a familiar fight. “The climate of what’s going on was just enough, it was enough,” says Tucker. “These two things were a sign that someone was talking to me. “
Since 2015, Tucker says, he has quietly organized a “one-man boycott” of his beloved twins, protesting a statue of former team owner Calvin Griffith who stands in front of Target Field. For someone who describes himself as a “ride or die” twin loyalist, it was no small sacrifice. Worn team gear still stains his closet – his favorite item: a Carlos Gomez jersey with the G, O and Z striped on the back, so it only reads to me – but Tucker hasn’t bought anything new since five years. And, while he has already attended as many games per season as his schedule and wallet allowed, including the famous playoffs of game 163 against the Tigers in 2009, he now refuses to set foot in downtown from the pitch stadium. “I don’t want to see this statue,” he said, “until it is laid on its back or shot by the Twins. “
Aside from bringing the well-documented summary of the late Griffith on racism and fanaticism to anyone who listens to it, however, Tucker had never found the time to plan a real popular campaign for the removal of the statue. Second, Floyd’s death triggered an expected delay in this country’s racist roots, forcing a national review of the monuments to Confederate rulers, slavers and other problematic historical figures still in public space.
And that’s how Tucker connected to Facebook, created a new group …MN Twins fans for the removal of the statue of Calvin Griffith at Target Field“And invited everyone on their list of friends, hoping to rally a few allies. Support however arrived much faster than expected by Tucker. The group surpassed 250 members on Thursday, while more than 230 signed a Change.org petition to current team owner James Pohlad, whose family bought the franchise from Griffith in 1984, calling for the statue to be demolished. Maybe it doesn’t sound like a lot of people. “But if you consider that I have been protesting by myself for more than four years,” said Tucker, “I feel like the whole world is behind me. ”
It could just as well be. Consider recent efforts in the sports world only. A petition to rename the University of Cincinnati baseball stadium, which has the nickname of anti-Semite Marge Schott, has just under 10,000 signatures and the approval of Bearcats alum Kevin Youkilis. Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and current Texas quarterback A&M Kellen Mond are among the tens of thousands who want to drop a statue from the campus of former school president Lawrence Sullivan Ross, a brigadier general of the Confederate army. A few hours away, athletes from the University of Texas refused to participate in recruitment or donor events unless, among other requests, a statue of the segregationist James Hogg was removed. And Memphis Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant recently sent a passionate letter to a Kentucky county judge, demanding the same fate for a statue of Robert E. Lee and a monument to Confederate soldiers in Murray, where Morant played university.
“We cannot change the culture of racism unless we change the celebration of racism”, Morant wrote. “Help us take a stand and remove the symbol of hatred and oppression.”
No statue is just a piece of stone or metal. If a person stands there, frozen in time, then that person’s position for. Tucker Sees It: Why Twins Fans Should Continue To Tolerate A Reminder Of The Last MLB Owner To Host Players In Racially Separated Hotels During Spring Training, Ending This Practice Just Four Months Before the adoption of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Why Griffith, when quoted as telling a white Lions Club rally that he moved the Washington Senators to the Twin Cities in ’61 because he “discovered you only had 15,000 black people here” , continues to preside over a partially taxpayer-funded stadium, outside a ticket entry named after twin legend Rod Carew, who is Black, and which Griffith’s own comments have alienated and chased from the city?
“We ask very little,” says Tucker. “We are not asking, like a meeting with the players. We ask to be considered as representatives of the community. We were not welcome when this guy was there – so now he is not welcome when we are there. ”
Growing up in Duluth, two hours north of Minneapolis, Tucker fell hard for the home team after winning the World Series 1987 and 1991. Soon, he wore an oversized WORLD CHAMPIONS hat, wearing his Twins sweatshirt until the lettering disappears, recording every game on TV. He still records games, even if he has not attended them himself for five years. “You never get over your first love,” he says.
It’s the love Tucker remembers feeling in 1991, cheering on the house as Jack Morris spent 10 innings to beat the Braves in Game 7 and capture another streak. “It was the ultimate,” he says. It was love that prompted Tucker to devour all the baseball books in his school library, to memorize the trading card statistics of each Twins player and to buy “any magazine I could put the main ”to learn more about the best prospects for the Minnesota farming system. And it was love that ultimately led Tucker to leave Duluth in 2005 and move to Minneapolis, where he works today as a hospital registrar during the coronavirus pandemic. “The big reasons why I went down were to watch [former Vikings receiver] Randy Moss in person and going to the Twins games, ”he says. “Then Randy Moss was swapped, and I discovered that the twins had a racist statue. “
Griffith’s likeness has been looming at Target Field since the stadium opened in 2010, but Tucker didn’t know anything about the white man behind the bronze until ’15 when he read a The Vice.com article titled “Why the Twins Should Demolish Their Statue of a Former Owner. There he learned of the Lions Club incident and Griffith’s weak rebuttal in his defense, Star Tribune: “But damn it, racism is a thing of the past. Why do we have colored ball players in our club? They are the best. If you don’t have them, you’re not going to win. “By clicking on another story, Tucker also learned how Carew reacted with disgust at these remarks before forcing a trade with the Angels in 1979.” I’m not going back and playing for a fanatic, “said Carew. I’m not going to be another n —– on his plantation. ”
At first, Tucker was in conflict. “I was like: Surely, whoever erected this statue, they did not know [about the details of Griffith’s past], ” he says. But it didn’t take long to realize: “I understood it by a simple search on the Internet – the twins obviously had a lot more information on who [Griffith] was and what it stood for. His boycott started then and there. “They dropped me and a lot of their fans,” he says. “It’s like when a family member betrays you. You are hurt, but you are more disappointed than crazy. If I hadn’t liked the twins so much, I probably wouldn’t care. ”
For years, Tucker has struggled to convince others of his cause. His younger brother Scott agreed to end their longstanding tradition of catching a soccer game on July 4 in Minneapolis together – “I really wanted to go, but I had to support the cause,” says Scott, but even those in Tucker’s inner circle seemed to have trouble understanding why he left the cold turkey on the team. “They mostly laughed,” he says. “A friend said to me,” I will buy your ticket! “Well, no, that is not the question. ”
Tucker always stayed away. In June 2017, one day after a police officer was acquitted of manslaughter for the murder of a black civilian named Philando Castile, Tucker posted on his Facebook page:
“I wonder if anyone else notices the irony of the Cleveland Indians visiting the Target field the same weekend, a law enforcement officer gets away with wrongful murder. Cleveland has a racist logo and a team nickname that has been considered politically incorrect and derogatory for decades. While playing in the state-of-the-art #Mntwins stadium, there is a statue of a documented racist, former owner Calvin Griffith, outside. ”
Now that more and more supporters have come, Tucker has stepped up its efforts for the Twins to take note. Through the Facebook group, an email campaign was organized, flooding the team’s community relations department with requests to dismantle the statue before the start of the delayed 2020 season (when that happens). Between shifts at the hospital, Tucker stays busy reaching out to current and former players on social media – “Torii Hunter on Instagram and Twitter; Max Kepler on Instagram; Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, “he said, to name a few – sharing points centered on Griffith’s past and asking them to consider taking a stand. “Sooner or later,” he said, “someone will notice. For example, if Torii Hunter signed the petition, I think it could go a long way. (A message left at the Hunter agency has not been returned.)
Hunter is Tucker’s undisputed all-time Twin, although he has a special place for another of the franchise’s best field players. As a child, Tucker didn’t just worship Kirby Puckett for his World Series heroism, or for the way the star fielder looked frankly with a bat in his hand. “His body type,” says Tucker. “He shouldn’t be good at baseball. There was also the simple fact that Puckett looked like him and his family.. ” There weren’t many black people in Duluth, and I was the only one of my black friends who liked baseball, “said Tucker. “The minority and people of color players the twins have had, I have always been the biggest fans of them. “
This is why the statue bothers him as much as the others. They see a dissonance between the black players who wore the Twins – including Carew, Puckett, Hunter and, most recently, Gold Glove winner Byron Buxton – and the team’s continued association with Griffith. They wonder how the team aligns with the Pohlad family’s recent $ 25 million commitment to the racial justice efforts of Twin Cities, the man commemorated outside its doors. “It is important for the twins to take a stand, reach out and show that they support the community,” says Scott Tucker. ” Twins [posted] something to stand with Black Lives Matter, but it’s a bit hypocritical to say that and leave their statue, knowing his character. People mean, he’s the first owner of the Twins, he brought the team to Minnesota, he deserves to have a statue. I have this story, but I think the most important story is what it represented. I don’t think monuments like this should be in the first place. ”
In idolatry, as in physics, what goes up tends to go down anyway. Human history is littered with the remains of formerly glorified statues that have fallen in the midst of wider societal change. In 1776, the American colonials overturned a statue of King George III and smashed metal into bullets for the Revolutionary War. Some two and a half centuries later, the monuments of Columbus and the Confederate rulers collapsed in a country that had long been seized from the Amerindians and subsequently built on the backs of black slaves. It’s not that history is silenced; these statues were erected to silence the memories of the people they dominated in the first place. On the contrary, it is simply the story that goes on, proof of what can happen when enough voices come together to demand a better future.
According to Tucker, Thursday evening, no Twins player or front office official had replied, despite its many openings. A member of his public Facebook group, however, posted a brief response from the Twins’ director of community relations and youth engagement, Josh Ortiz: “Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I sent this to the appropriate people in our organization. “
While Tucker waited, he was already thinking about the next steps in the campaign. No more emails and messages, that’s for sure. Perhaps a peaceful protest against the statue, as did the two he attended outside of Minneapolis police headquarters in memory of Floyd. “I don’t care if it’s only five of us, ten of us,” he said. “I just want them to make a statement saying how they really feel about it. I give them the benefit of the doubt. Someone in the organization, their hearts must be in the right place. ”
On Friday, the 155th anniversary of the official end of slavery in the United States, Tucker’s years of persistence were, if not downright recognized, then nonetheless rewarded. By announcing that the Griffith statue had been removed earlier in the morning, around the same time as a monument to segregationist and former NFL owner George Preston Marshall was removed from RFK Stadium in Washington—The twins released a statement that included the following:
“Although we recognize the leading role that Calvin Griffith has played in our history, we cannot remain silent and continue to ignore the racist comments he made in Waseca in 1978. His derogatory words reflected blatant intolerance and contempt for the black community which are the antithesis of what the Minnesota Twins represent and value.
Our decision to commemorate Calvin Griffith with a statue reflects our ignorance of the systemic racism present in 1978, 2010 and today. We apologize for our failure to adequately recognize the way in which the statue was viewed and the pain it caused to many people, both within the Twins organization and across Twins territory. We cannot remove Calvin Griffith from the history of the Minnesota twins, but we believe that the removal of this statue is an important and necessary step in our ongoing commitment to providing a target field experience where every fan and employee feels safe and welcome.
Past, present or future, there is no room for racism, inequality and injustice in the Territory of Twins.”
Now that his boycott is officially over, now that he can see his beloved twins in person, Tucker knows what he’s going to do. First, he wants to email “the powers that are for the twins and let them know, I like it, and the city likes it,” he says. Then he will travel three kilometers between his apartment and Target Field to testify to the empty place where the tanned bigot was once.
“Then I plan to buy a Buxton jersey,” he said. “I can’t wait for the opening day. ”