Today In History – Tom Yawkey Buys The Red Sox

25 February 1933 – Seventy-five years ago today, in the midst of the Great Depression, Bob Quinn sells the Red Sox franchise to Thomas Austin Yawkey, who four days earlier had celebrated his 30th birthday. Quinn had owned the franchise since 1923 and the team had suffered considerably under his ownership; his clubs had averaged 99 loses against only 54 wins and suffered five seasons with 100 or more losses in ten years. In fact, since going 75-51 in the war-shortened 1918 campaign and winning the club’s fourth World Series in seven years, Boston had suffered 14 consecutive losing seasons under Quinn and previous owner Harry Frazee.

In 1932, the team had won just 43 games, fewest in team history, while ending up on the losing end of the score 111 times. Not only was Quinn’s ballclub suffering, Fenway Park had been left to deteriorate as Quinn’s debts mounted. At the same time, Yawkey, who had been born into wealth and whose uncle (and adoptive father) had once owned the Detroit Tigers, was looking to buy a baseball team. He turned down an offer to purchase a minor league team and refused another to buy half of the Brooklyn Dodgers; for him, it was all or nothing. He eventually heard through one of his sources that the Red Sox were available and quickly got his lawyers busy looking into the opportunity. By early 1933, talks were underway and, in the end, Quinn agrees to sell both the team and the park to Yawkey to the tune of $1.2 million dollars, a bargain price even at the time.

Within two years, Yawkey not only had Fenway Park renovated using his own money while employing several out-of-worker Bostonians but, with trusted confidant and former Philadelphia Athletics star Eddie Collins installed as vice president and general manager, also had the team performing better on the field, finishing at .500 in 1934 and winning 80-plus games in 12 of 15 seasons between 1937 and 1951. Yawkey would own the team for 43 seasons until his death in 1976, and ownership would remain in his trust until 2002, when the team was sold to current owner John Henry and his investment group for nearly $700 million.