Professional athletes, whether they want to be or not, are role models. As such, there has to be repercussions for inappropriate behavior, regardless of how well-meaning it was. The inappropriate behavior of one person does not excuse inappropriate behavior of another, and this should be especially true of professional athletes. Furthermore, professional leagues should not pick and choose which cases of assault they will punish. It would be inconsistent to punish one athlete for engaging in a brawl after his mother was insulted and not another because a racial slur was dropped.
If the New York Yankees, or any other major league sports team beat up someone today there would definitely be major repercussions. Yes, the bowling team deserved to get their butts kicked after making such nasty slurs to Sammy Davis Jr. However, in today's world, people cannot beat up each other.
Given the way in which the wealthy in the country are seen, these players from the Yankees would not experience major repercussions today. There are some who would think that they were justified and were simply defending Sammy Davis Jr. from racial violence (violence as emotional violence rather than simply physical violence). Furthermore, based how violence by professional athletes has been handled in the past, like professional football players only being fined or suspended for a few games in response to things like domestic violence, it seems that violence from a professional athlete, while it does garner some consequences, would not have major repercussions.
There would not be repercussions to ballplayers today for standing up to racism, because most people agree that racism is wrong. The players were just standing up for fairness and equality. It's true that they didn't do so in a good way, but it's also true that the idea was good.