Yankee Hater Finds Love for 2009 Team

Article excerpt


So it happened. A miracle. In the 2009 World Series, I became a Yankee Fan. May Dad forgive me.

Some background:

My first memory of why I should hate the Yankees goes back to when I was kid in the 1950s. My dad had a simple political analysis as to why being a Yankee fan was not possible in our house.

He was a liberal FDR Democrat. Liberals, he taught me, cared about the little guy and always rooted for the underdog. Republicans, he believed, had most of the money and had most of the advantages and won most of the time (These were the Eisenhower years, after all, where the GOP controlled the Congress and the White House).

We lived in Jersey City, and there were two other New York teams available to root for besides the Yankees: the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants.

The Dodgers, my dad would say, were the blue-collar guys, affectionately called the Bums. They brought up Jackie Robinson and broke the race barrier. Normally they would be the liberals, the good guys, and worth rooting for.

But wait. They had one major deficiency.

They didn't have No. 24. They didn't have the Say Hey Kid, our hero. They didn't have Willie Mays. The N.Y. Giants did. So we were Giants fans.

Another reason: The Giants, dad explained, were more middle class, more in the middle-of-the-road. Always be a liberal, he taught me, but it's OK to be in the middle too so you can understand both sides. If you want to be a politician some day, he advised, that's where the votes are.

So we were Giants fans.

And what about the Yankees? I would ask, knowing what his answer and explanation would be, but wanting dad to repeat it for the 106th time.

The Yankees???? he would ask with consternation. The Yankees????

My father explained his hatred for the Yankees:

You see, the Yankees win all the time - they have all that money - they even wear pinstripes on their uniforms, for goodness sake. Why, they walk, talk and look like [long pause, a look of disgust] .. Republicans!!!!

'Nuff said Now I understood.

Republicans! How could they get any lower than that? I asked.

So it was clear, I had to hate the Yankees - and did for a long time.

My father was right: They did win most of the time. In the 1950s, when I was just old enough to begin my love affair with the game of baseball, they would win the World Series in six out of 10 years in the 1950s and took five straight World Series from 1949 to 1953.

Then in 1962, I sat in the Yankee Stadium bleachers for one game of the World Series and watched the Yankees defeat my beloved Giants (now moved to San Francisco). The bleacher seats were far from home plate, but who cared? I was about 50 yards or so from my hero, Willie Mays, No. 24, and I spent most of the game staring at him and wishing, wishing, he'd turn around, wave at me, and say, Say hey, Lanny.

He didn't.

It seemed so unfair that the Yankees won all the time. They had The Babe and Lou Gehrig in the 1920s and 1930s, when they won eight World Series. Then they had Joe DiMaggio in the 1940s, when they won five World Series. Then they had Mickey Mantle in the 1950s and, toward the end of the decade, Roger Maris too, when, as I said, they won six World Series in 10 years.

And as for Mickey Mantle, that was one more reason to hate the Yankees: Some people actually had the chutzpah to say that Mickey Mantle was better than Willie Mays. …