$1.2 million doesn’t quite buy what it used to. That sum was the amount paid by Tom Yawkey to purchase the Boston Red Sox on this date in 1933. Yawkey had inherited $40 million from his uncle, Bill Yawkey, but was not allowed to take control of his inheritance until after his 30th birthday.
It only took Tom four days after realizing his new wealth to find a suitable birthday present – a baseball team. He had been encouraged by friend, and future Hall of Famer, Eddie Collins, to buy the struggling Red Sox, who had still not recovered from the sale of Babe Ruth.
“Some men like to spend their dough on fast horses and other things that go fast,” Yawkey told writer Dan Daniel in 1937. “Some men like to go in for polo, for example, and spend thousands of dollars on ponies. Some go nuts for paintings, and give half a million for a hunk of canvas in a fancy frame. But my passion is baseball.”
Yawkey revitalized the franchise and remains one of the most beloved figures in New England sports history. He was the sole owner of the team for 44 years, the longest sole ownership of a team in baseball history. Under Yawkey’s watch, the Red Sox again rose to the top of the American League, winning three pennants during his tenure. However, a World Series title eluded Yawkey and the Red Sox, which greatly disappointed him. Yawkey also served as the American League president from 1956 to 1973. For his lifetime of service to the game of baseball, he was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1980.
The Yawkey family controlled the team until 2002, when the current ownership group of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino took over.
Their price? That would be a cool $660 million. Not a bad return on investment for the Yawkey family if I do say so myself.