…and I’m still alive to write about it.  Of course it’s off now that they’ve been eliminated from the playoffs. Still, it’s risky business to live in Boston and root for any baseball team other than the Red Sox.

Don’t get me wrong–you’re allowed to hate our home team with unmitigated passion as most of Red Sox Nation did this past season.  But root for another one?  A New York team?  That’s flat out blasphemy.

So be it.  Had the Sox been in the playoffs, I would have rooted for them.  They are my hometown team and I’ve spent my entire life loving the one I’m with.  Problem is, I’ve lived in a number of cities long enough to have genuine affection for teams in those ports.

Before moving to Boston I lived in Chicago and rooted for the White Sox even though I lived near Wrigley.  The White Sox had Ritchie Allen and a manager, Chuck Tanner, I respected.  When given shit by the Chicago press about Allen’s habit of not taking batting practice, he shrugged it off and told reporters to watch the guy hit in games.  Allen eventually went on to win the American League’s Most Valuable Player.  Tanner knew what he was talking about and I had my new hometown team.

But the New York thing is an enduring love that has to do with my roots.  I grew up in Carteret, New Jersey (Exit 12 off the Turnpike) where, as I’ve previously written, it was possible to see the New York skyline on non-factory induced smog days.  New York had three teams–the Dodgers, Giants, and Yankees.  My childhood babysitter, while my parents worked the tavern, (it was a working peoples’ town so the bar was open from early morning until, well, early morning) was a huge Dodger fan so my first infatuation was with Brooklyn.  And my first gut-punching betrayal–when the Dodgers moved to California.

But by then I was allowed to hang at my dad’s bar where my mother’s sister, Aunt Jeanette, was working.  She was a die-hard Yankee fan and I became one too (though I spent many an hour under my covers with a transistor radio listening to Les Keiter recreate Giants games with recordings of crowd noise and sticks he knocked together when the ticker tape said “hit or “foul.”)

The complaints–even back in the days–that the Yankees just bought championships (often using the Kanas City team as an extension of their minor league franchises) didn’t bother me.  I’d already become enamored with my new favorite players: Yogi, Gil McDougald, and especially Moose Skowron since I played first base in Little League.

I traded baseball for politics when I entered The University of Wisconsin.  I hadn’t gone underground; I still knew the stars although I no longer followed any particular team.  It wasn’t until I landed in Chicago that my love for the game reignited and I renewed my vows–forever.

Yes, I’m a Red Sox fan.  But I still have affection and appreciation for all my past teams–other than the Dodgers.  So wearing the New York cap was simply a reflection of that fondness.

But now that they’ve been bounced from the playoffs I have another cap to wear–one that has a fancy D on it. Sue is from Detroit and has a fierce loyalty to her hometown.  Doesn’t care that much about baseball, but can still recite the Tiger line-up in the 1968 World Series.  In 2006 her mom was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer.  Tsiv decided against extreme measures preferring a limited but better quality of life with home hospice.  Sue, Jeff (Sue’s brother who also lives in Boston) Donna, his wife, and I took shifts flying out to be with her during the final six months.  Sometimes each of us went there alone, sometimes together.  The Tigers were in the playoffs that season and I got Tsiv into baseball.  We watched the games in her bedroom and rooted them on.  The night they advanced to the World Series, Sue and I were both there.  She and I danced around Tsiv’s bed as she chanted along with us. “Go Tigers, go Tigers!”  It was a wonderful moment in a sea of sadness.

So I’m happy to don my Tigers’ cap now as they enter the 2012 World Series.  And it comes at a great time since Sue and I, after thirty four years of living together, are getting married next Sunday.

This year I’m looking forward to rooting for Detroit in the midst of celebration rather than sadness.

Rehctaw from Rawrah http://rawrahs.blogspot.com/,  has graciously offered to pinch hit for me next Monday.  I believe you’ll enjoy his writing and I’ll visit with you all again on November 5th.

16 thoughts on “I’VE BEEN WEARIN’ A YANKEE CAP

  1. Zach, I think we need to have a talk. You see, when a boy meets a girl, and they fall in love and get married, on the wedding night strange and glorious things happen. These things are only amplified in goodness by the World Series! Congrats on the marriage, I just celebrated my 12th anniversary, so I have nothing on your 34 years, we did it the opposite way, more like 34 days then get married.

    Katie was a Twins fan growing up, and I a Cardinals fan, then much like yourself I picked up a new team from being in a new place, the Red Sox. Now as an infant Red Sox fan I was tossed into a weird vortex of baseball twilight zone. My new brother was a lifelong Yankees fan, so unless the Sox were playing the Yankees I would root for both teams, when they played each other I would root for the Sox, but never seemed sad when the Yankees won. Then as I started really getting into history I started to root for the Dodgers too. Not having been abandoned by them myself I did not have that issue, but because of the history lover that I am, I always saw them as Brooklyn Dodgers, not LA. So I found myself rooting for the Cardinals, the Red Sox, the Yankees, and the Dodgers…

    … so when I got married to Katie I thought I’d be adding the Twins to my teams, but she had fallen out of infatuation with baseball, and when I tried to share the Twins successes with her, as they started having them, she was in disbelief. So that fandom faded, and I could care less for the Twins. Then something great happened, the Red Sox started to seriously tug at the chains of the Ruth curse, and the Cardinals were hot, all in the same year! Ever since I had moved to the Boston area I had dreams that this would happen, and here I was living through it. I honestly did not care who won, I just wanted to soak in it for say, I don’t know, seven games? I thought it was going to be epic, both teams fought to get there. You know the history of 2004…

    It is 2012 now, and the Tigers are waiting to see who they will face after beating the Yankees in a series that robbed baseball fans of three games. (Do you blame the Tigers for being too good, or the Yankees for sucking it up?) I am an ex-patriot Cards fan this season, that makes two seasons in a row for different reasons, so I have been rooting for the New York Giants of San Fransisco, but tonight is game seven, and from what I will hear of it, and what little I may see of it, I will be soaking in the awesomeness of a game seven. No matter who wins, the Cards or the Giants, I have no connection to the Tigers, though I know one thing for sure; I will be hanging on each game, rooting for another, holding my breath for an explosive series that takes us to game seven. As to what happens if we get to game seven, if it is Giants v. Tigers, or Cards v. Tigers, I don’t know, but I hope it is epic. I have to look at it that way, Katie has been bitten by the baseball bug again, so it is on every TV in the house.

    It is nice to know another multi-team fan!

    • Don–it’s good to have company. I know a few two team fans but that’s about it. Truth is, I just love the game.

      You said: ” will be soaking in the awesomeness of a game seven.” As will I. Basebeball’s been very good to me.

  2. Zach and I have always differed on this. I have been living in Boston for over 40 years but I am a Met fan till the end. I stick with the team that I grew to love as a kid and it is an emotional attachment. I never could understand folks switching teams! or liking more than 1 team!

    Getting married!!!!!!! OMG!

    • Ruben:”I never could understand folks switching teams! or liking more than 1 team!”

      I hope you now understand it a bit better?

      Ruben:”Getting married!!!!!!! OMG!”

      Gotta look for ways to keep long term relationships hopping!

  3. I’ve been wearing Yankees caps since the late 70’s. I have no interest in baseball. None whatsoever. So why the cap, Kent?

    During the years of the original “Saturday Night Live,” they frequently used a still photo of Gilda Radner wearing a Yankees cap while the opening theme was played to identify her as a cast member. I thought she looked cool. Not cute, not sexy, there was just something about that hat that struck me as cool.

    I’ve probably gone through 50 or so by now and still have three, each in a various state of battered survival and age. As you might suppose, there are few others in my wilderness area who wear them. Sometimes I’d see another one when I lived in Indy. I’ve never seen another out here. Sometimes strangers will ask me how long I’ve been a “die-hard Yankees fan.” I tell them the truth about the matter and they edge away, convinced I’m unusual perhaps to the point of madness. It’s always a very shot conversation.

    But wearing a hat with such a distinctive logo has its perks. I used to frequent a bar in Indianapolis where every so often I’d cash my paycheck on the weekend to do some serious drinking. (I worked second shift at the time.) They knew me as a regular, and would cash my checks without question. Once I asked the barkeep to cash my paycheck and he refused. This was a mystery to me until I realized I was bare-headed. I went back out to my pickup, put the hat on, and went back in. “Oh, it’s YOU!” said the bartender. “Sorry, I didn’t recognize you. Still want that check cashed?”

    I am probably the only living American who ever got a check cashed while using a New York Yankees baseball cap as an ID.

    I still think they’re cool. I don’t know why. Here in the Great Wooded Flyover they make me stick out like a sore thumb, however, and many folks who do not or cannot remember my name remember that cap, and will engage in conversation with me as an old friend. It’s been a long strange road since the late 1970’s for me but the Yankees caps have always seemed to be a little light in the darkness. I’ve often thought that getting a Cubbies or Dodgers cap would be a surprisingly good disguise, enough that I’d place a small bet on it.


    • kent:”I am probably the only living American who ever got a check cashed while using a New York Yankees baseball cap as an ID.”

      This is pretty funny, man.

      Kent:”I still think they’re cool.”

      My cousins send you their thanks.

  4. Baseball has enhanced my life. I can watch any two teams play, knowing it’s the game that matters that day. “Some days you win, some days you lose, some days it rains.”
    I’ll be rooting for the Giants to win game seven.

      • The quote is from Crash Davis in ‘Bull Durham”.
        when he’s “arranging” a rain-out.

        Games one and two haven’t swayed the broadcasters away from Tiger’s clearly superior starters. Jim Leyland is a class-act and consummate baseball devotee who has achieved Zen. Nothing cheap or phony. Just great baseball.

        I can’t think of two more deserving teams to be playing in the 2012 World Series. Top to bottom of the rosters they are upholding everything that is great about the game. (So far)
        There could be a lesson for us all in that.

        There won’t be, but there certainly could.

  5. Talk about burying the lede! Congrats to Sue and you too! As for baseball, I had a similar experience. My Dad died, slowly and lost his mind slowly to a bunch of tumors. It was hat golden season when the Red Sox were fighting their way to shaking off The Curse, and Dad and I got to experience each win many times each day. “How’s the Red Sox doing?” “They’re in the playoffs!” “No kidding, tell me more!”

    God gave us that season to ease Dad’s passing, I’m convinced.

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