This post comes from a very passionate baseball fan, and even more passionate Yankee lover for life. His name is Crotchety Old Joe. He is very wise for such a young and vibrant man (I trying to angle myself for Yankee tickets down the road). Enjoy!!!
I hate Boston. Or Bawsten as the locals would say. I hate the Kennedys, Cape Cod, Boston Harbor, the Duck Boats, Yawkey Way, Fenway Park, and that stupid accent. What do they teach in Boston schools, the 3 aws? It’s like they can’t pronounce the letter “R.” What the heck is up with that? Errah, what the hell?
But most of all, I hate the Red Sox. Or the Sawx, if you want to read this in Bawstenese.
And I’m no hater come lately, mind you. My very first game, when I was only a little Crotchety, was in 1961, and it was at the Cathedral of Baseball– Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, the happiest place on earth. Maybe Disney has Goofy and Mickey, but we had a Mickey of our own, along with a Yogi, a Moose, and a Roger.
It’s funny how certain details from when one is young just sticks with someone. I remember some details of the game like it was yesterday. Whitey Ford started the game, and either Maris or Mantle belted a home run. But I remember when I first walked through the Stadium, I was in awe. And, I was overwhelmed when I walked through the tunnel and emerged to see Yankee Stadium in all its splendor.
Back then, TV was black and white, and I lived in a house with a tiny yard that was more weeds than grass, so I had not been prepared for the emerald green field against the light blue of the old ballpark. I was mesmerized.
And our rivals that day? The Boston Red Sox. Most of the game was a blur, but I clearly remember cheering at the right times, and booing when the Sox players were up. I went from being a Yankee fan, to being a Boston-hating Yankee fan, joining a long line of my tradition laden brethren. I can never forget, as I filed out of the Park, looking back once again, with the score, New York 13, Boston 2. The die was cast.
Fast forward to 1978. My Bronx Bombers were in the midst of a great comeback, one for the ages, against the hated Red Sox. Late September, and my friend Mark and I were at the Stadium. This was when the place (and the team) was gaining the nickname “The Bronx Zoo.” I know it was because the players were crazy, but believe me, the fans were not the mellow ones seen at a game today.
Because the Stadium is fairly close to Boston, Sox fans often came to the games. When I say fights occasionally broke out in the stands, well, that is the understatement of the year. More than once, Mark and I had to “duck and cover” as fans on each side of us traded insults, and then punches. I hate the Red Sox and Boston fans as much as the next guy, but I’m not throwing punches over it. At least not when I’m more or less sober.
The game had to be stopped a couple times due to all the fights in the stands. And calling them fights? They were more Pier 6 brawls. From my seat, I could see the bleachers was one huge Battle Royale, with so much beer and popcorn and cups and g-d knows what else flying through the air that the players stopped watching the game, and watched the stands. It was a disgusting display, yet, being an ultimate Yankee fan, it made me proud.
The Yankees lost that night, but the fans got their ultimate revenge. Someone, I have no idea whether Yankee or Sox fan, had brought a life size Carlton Fisk doll (for lack of a better word) to the Stadium, dressed in full uniform. As we walked to our car, we saw it hanging outside, as in effigy. Our satisfaction for this event was only increased when it became engulfed in flames.
My Boston hatredness continued until finally, in 1986, it reached the zenith.
The Sox were in the Series against our cross town rivals, the Mets. Two teams I despised playing for the title that rightfully belonged to the Yankees. I did not watch one inning of the Series. Yet, I was overjoyed that the Sox lost. And when seeing the replay of Bill Buckner’s error, I chuckled. Ok, it was more a hearty, slightly evil, laugh.
How deep is my hatred?
I never trust a player who used to play for the Sox. When Wade Boggs (always a Sox player in my eyes) rode on the horse around Yankee Stadium after the Yankees won in 1996, I was hoping someone would knock him off the horse with a beer bottle, or a baseball, a rock–anything so that an ex-Sox player didn’t get one extra second of joy. Even as Clemens was winning Cy Young awards for my Yankees, I still didn’t trust him. It’s looking like I was right on that one, that allegedly cheating so and so.
A few years ago, I was at the Big Ballpark in the South Bronx, and I had some great seats. Section 2, right behind the dish. Jimmy Key was dealing, and standing right next to me (I told you these were some good seats) was Mike Torrez, hero of the ’77 Yanks World Championship team. We chatted a bit, then suddenly, he was mobbed by autograph seekers. After signing for some fans, he had to leave. He looked at me, and expected me to ask for an autograph. I shook his hand, and said thanks for what you did for the Yankees, but I’ll pass on an autograph, because you went to the Red Sox. No offense. He said, “I understand. None taken.”
Only a fan could understand that.