Why I Love the New York Yankees
Since (at the time of writing) baseball spring training is about to begin, I thought I’d say a few words about my favorite team.
I was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1945 into an Italian-American family. My father’s side of the family was from the Boston area but my mother was born on Federal Hill, smack dab in the middle of Providence’s “Little Italy.” My father was a Red Sox fan but my family on my mother’s side were (and still are) all Yankee fans. My mother’s sister had seven kids, six of them boys and all of them older than I. The oldest ones grew up listening to the Yankees on radio in the Joe DiMaggio era. When I was a little kid, my folks took me to New York and we saw the Yanks beat the Red Sox at Yankee stadium. I don’t remember much about the game but, when I think about it, I must have seen Mickey Mantle as a rookie.
During the 1950s, I followed the Yankees when they had Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Bobby Richardson, Clete Boyer, etc. etc. I remember coming out of St. Teresa’s school at the end of the school day and some kid with a transistor radio shouting that Don Larsen had pitched a perfect game against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. In the early 60s, my cousins and I went up to Fenway Park to see the Bombers when they came to Boston. It was always a slaughter - the Yanks creamed the Red Sox every time. I remember one game when two Yanks got back-to-back home runs (Berra was one of them, I don’t remember the other). Mantle came up and got a base hit. Maris then homered for two more runs!
Now, living in Rhode Island, I had to put up with (and STILL put up with) the taunts of Boston Red Sox fans. With all due respect to all you Sox fans (including some very close friends of mine), I have never had more animosity against a sports team as I have against those blankety-blank Sox. When I was a kid, I was sitting in the stands at Fenway and, there in front of me, just a few feet away, was number seven, Mickey Mantle, in the on-deck circle. My boyhood hero - right in front of me! I hollered something like “Hey Mickey” and a Red Sox fan behind me said “He’s a bum.” That was it. I became a card-carrying Red Sox hater from then on!
I have followed the Yanks when they were great, during the lean years of the late 60s and early 70s, and ever since. 1978 stands out in my mind. Fourteen games out in August, they stormed back, starting with a four-game sweep of the Sox at Fenway (known as the “Boston Massacre”) and ended the season in a tie with Boston. Bucky Dent hit that three-run homer that Sox fans still talk about today (he’s known in Boston as Bucky F---kn’ Dent) and the Yanks won the game (Reggie Jackson homered in that game as well). They went on to the Series, lost the first two to the Dodgers, and came back and won four in a row. Wow. (By the way, regardless of all what was said about him, the main reason the Yanks came back in the 70s was due to “the Boss” - George Steinbrenner - R.I.P. George.)
I could go on and on about the Yanks but anybody that knows baseball knows what I’m talking about. People root for one particular team or another just because they happen to live within a hundred miles or so of where the team plays. Not me. When I lived in Rhode Island, I was a Yankee fan. When I lived in Baltimore and later outside of Washington, I was a Yankee fan . When I lived in Ohio not far from Cincinnati, I was a Yankee fan. When I lived overseas, I was a Yankee fan. Now I live back in Rhode Island, and I am STILL a Yankee fan.
Why? Here are a few reasons. Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri, DiMaggio, Martin, Mantle, Rizzuto, Stengel, Boyer, Richardson, Skowron, Ford, Bauer, Maris, Larsen, Berra, Dickey, Howard, Stottlemyre, Murcer, Jackson, Munson, Guidry, O’Neill, Lyle, Gossage, Mattingly . . . and more recently Matsui, Pettite, Posada, Rivera, Texiera, ARod, Cano, and . . . Derek Jeter. I wore my No. 2 Jeter shirt the day Jeter got his 3000th hit (a home run). I know -- I left out a LOT of names - I could fill the whole page with names of Yankee greats.)
Forty pennants, 27 World Series Championships, no one even comes close. You could make a case that the three greatest teams in baseball history were the 1927 New York Yankees, the 1961 New York Yankees, and the 1998 New York Yankees.
Well, go ahead and wear your hats with the big “B” on them, Red Sox fans, keep hollering “Yankees suck,” and so forth and so on. You’ve won six World Series - let me know when you win the next 21!
I’ve had quite a life. At sixty-six years old, I can look back on a great career as an intelligence officer for the US Government, interesting assignments, lots of travel - - I even wrote a couple of books (I’m working on a third). I have a great wife and family, many great friends (even a couple of Red Sox fans!), and a nice home.
They say a man gets old when his dreams turn to regrets. I have one regret - I never wore the pinstripes and played ball for the New York Yankees,
Baseball is Americana.
The New York Yankees ARE baseball.
Update - January 2013
In their quest to lower the payroll, the Yankees have lost these players:
Nick Swisher - .272, 24 HR, 93 RBI
Raul Ibanez - .240, 19 Hr, 62 RBI in a part-time roll
Russel Martin - .211, 21 HR, 53 RBI
Rafael Soriano - 2-1, 2.26 ERA, 42 saves
64 Hr and 208 RBI and 42 saves - gone.
I hope Cashman knows what he's doing . . . anyway, a little over a month to Spring Training!
Update - November 2013
Well, we've seen what the loss of those players (not to mention a whole lot of major injuries) has begat: 85-77 and tied for third place. Congratulations Red Sox fans but, remember, WE'LL BE BACK! By the way, congratulations and Godspeed to the great Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettite.
Update - December 2013
The Yankees have reportedly signed former Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a 7-year deal. This means they will most likely not try re-sign Curtis Granderson who's a free agent this year. I have mixed feelings on this one. Granderson could hit for power, steal bases and is an excellent fielder. Ellsbury is almost as good so we'll see. One suggestion - he should now go by a more traditional name - "Jake!"
Find out more about me at my website:
This is the website of Alex Drinkwater, Jr., author of fiction. including the novels "The Ghosts of Hanoi," and "Duly Constituted Authority."