Way back when, Sox had their own scandal

Way back when, Sox had their own scandal
November 10, 2011, 9:28 pm
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If the Joe PaternoPenn State scandal sounds vaguely familiar to local fans of a certain age, there's a reason.

A very similar incident unfolded 20 years ago with the Red Sox and one of their equipment managers, Don Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick started working for the Sox as a 14-year-old batboy in 1944 and remained in their employ until 1991, when a man in Anaheim held up a sign reading "Donald Fitzpatrick Sexually Assaulted Me" prior to a Red Sox-Angels game. Fitzpatrick left the Sox for good four days later. Seven of his victims filed suit against him in 2001, leading to a criminal prosecution, and he eventually accepted a plea deal in 2002: A 10-year suspended sentence and 15 years of probation. He died in 2005 and never served a day in prison.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports wrote a detailed story about Fitzpatrick's abuse of young African-American boys during his time as a Red Sox clubhouse attendant.

"Before Jerry Sandusky -- before he allegedly used the Penn State football complex to commit sex crimes with young boys and before the university spent more than a decade covering up his sins and before the grand-jury report revealed the appalling details of his abuse and before the campus rioted over legendary coach Joe Paterno losing his job amid it all -- there was Donald Fitzpatrick, the longtime Red Sox clubhouse manager who lured Ogletree and at least a dozen other young, African-American boys into two decades of systemic sexual abuse . . .

"Donald Fitzpatrick was an orphan, exactly the sort of boy Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey loved to rescue. He would play pepper with the batboys off the street before Red Sox games, and he took a particular shine to the 15-year-old Fitzpatrick, whom he soon put in the parking lot, the clubhouses wherever someone needed him. Even as Fitzpatrick grew older and his tendencies to gravitate toward young boys became apparent, Yawkey protected him, according to two sources with knowledge of their relationship.

"Save two years in the military, Fitzpatrick never left the Red Sox organization. When Yawkey died in 1976 after 44 tumultuous years of owning the franchise charges of racism chased him all the way through his Hall of Fame induction in 1980 and to today his wife's continued employment of Fitzpatrick concerned some Red Sox workers. Players for years had told young boys especially African-Americans to stay away from Fitzpatrick. Higher-ups in the organization tried to isolate him from any possible social setting. Jean Yawkey just wouldn't fire him . . . "