Twins remove Calvin Griffith statue from Target Field over racist remarks

Blue Jays Twins Baseball
A statue of former Twins owner Calvin Griffith stands in the snow outside Target Field in April 2014. The Twins on Friday said they had removed the statue over racist remarks he made in 1978.
Paul Battaglia | AP 2014

The Minnesota Twins announced Friday that the team has removed the statue of former owner Calvin Griffith from Target Field due to racist remarks he made more than 40 years ago.

In a statement, the team apologized for racist remarks Griffith made to a Lions Club meeting in Waseca, Minn., in 1978. There, Griffith reportedly told the group he moved the team from Washington, D.C., to Minnesota because there weren't many black people here.

The statement said the Twins can't remove Griffith from team history, but leaders of the organization felt it was necessary to ensure that the ballpark was welcoming to everyone.

"While we acknowledge the prominent role Calvin Griffith played in our history, we cannot remain silent and continue ignoring the racist comments he made in Waseca in 1978," the statement said. "His disparaging words displayed a blatant intolerance and disregard for the Black community that are the antithesis of what the Minnesota Twins stand for and value."

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

The Twins also apologized for their "ignorance" on systemic racism.

"We apologize for our failure to adequately recognize how the statue was viewed and the pain it caused for many people — both inside the Twins organization and across Twins Territory. We cannot remove Calvin Griffith from the history of the Minnesota Twins, but we believe removal of this statue is an important and necessary step in our ongoing commitment to provide a Target Field experience where every fan and employee feels safe and welcome.

Former Twins legend Rod Carew, who is black, was so angered then by Griffith's remarks that he forced the team to trade him.

In a statement Friday, he said he’d forgiven Griffith but understood why the Twins removed the statue. He called Griffith's 1978 comments “hurtful” and 'insensitive' but said Griffith was not racist.