On July 9, 1976, Thomas Yawkey passed away. Tom Yawkey was the owner of the Boston Red Sox for 44 years, longer than any other owner in baseball history. It seems baseball was in his blood -- Yawkey was the nephew and adopted son of Detroit Tigers owner Bill Yawkey. In 1933, at age 30, Tom purchased the struggling team for $1.5 miliion and dedicated the majority of his life, as well as his finances, to the Red Sox. He was determined to bring a championship to Boston.
Yawkey hired Eddie Collins, his longtime friend, as general manager with the goal to bring as much talent as possible to the Red Sox to help turn the team around. He also spent another $1.5 million to refurbish Fenway Park, which had started to become dilapidated over the years. Yawkey and Collins worked together to bring some amazing talent to the Red Sox -- Rick Ferrell, Joe Cronin, Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx, Bobby Doerr, and Ted Williams. Under Yawkey's ownership, the Red Sox brought home pennants in 1946, 1967, and 1975, however, they never won a World Series.
Yawkey was well liked among the players and was greatly respected by his peers in the baseball world. Joe Cronin once said that Yawkey "was not only the team owner, he was the team's No.1 fan." Yawkey served as American League vice president between 1956 and 1973. His passion for baseball and the Red Sox was undeniable. After Tom passed away in 1976, his widow, Jean, took over ownership of the Red Sox until her death in February 1992. On March 12, 1980, four years after his death, Yawkey was elected into the Hall of Fame. He became the first person to be elected into the Hall of Fame who had never been a player, manager, or general manager.
"I never look back. I love baseball and you have to be patient and take the good with the bad. After all, it's only a game." - Thomas Yawkey
In the photo below, Red Sox slugger Ted Williams is shown as he signed his 1956 Red Sox contract alongside Tom Yawkey. This contract was estimated to be for $110,000, the highest in the history of baseball at that time.