Although I’m not an avid sports fan, one who assiduously follows teams, I do, in my own way, keep track of the Boston Red Sox, and self-identify as a citizen of Red Sox Nation. A friend invites me to Yankee Stadium at least once during the season and I always try and join him when the Red Sox are playing their archrival.
From the Upper East Side, the number four express Lexington Avenue subway is the way to travel to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. On game nights the cars are at capacity with fans wearing blue and white striped shirts, hats, tee shirts and backpacks blazoned with the Yankees logo. Although Derek Jeter has retired, after a stunning twenty-year career, he is still beloved by Yankee fans and many wear his number two, which has been officially retired.
Saturday, June 30 was a sizzling evening with high humidity. The stadium was bursting with a sell-out crowd of over 47,000 people in the stands. This was game two in a three-game series with both teams having a great year and battling for first place in the American League East. The previous evening the Yankees had won by a score of 8 to 1.
As the game opened with the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner the large crowd stood quietly, in many cases covering their hearts with their hand. The players stood at attention on the field and for a few minutes everyone seems united. The rancor in our world disappeared.
Then the first pitch. It was only a few minutes into the game, still in the top of the first inning, when 22-year-old Rafael Devers the Boston third-baseman hit a two-out grand slam and suddenly the score was 4-0. “The probability of our winning is statistically very low,” my friend immediately commented.
My Boston Red Sox cap was tucked in my bag and I knew I couldn’t take it out now. It’s tricky business, proclaiming oneself part of Red Sox Nation in Yankee Stadium although it’s not a secret that our Mayor, Bill De Blasio, manages to keep his allegiance to the Red Sox
As the game progressed and the Red Sox continued to score, the audience began to “boo” the Yankee pitcher. It was a passionate booing that indicated a sense of disappointment, more than anger. By the seventh inning the score was Boston 9 and Yankees O.
The neon lights in the stadium, the organ music and the greetings beamed from the large digital screens (“will you marry me?” “Happy 90th Birthday”) and the barkers selling “beer here,” “peanuts” and (Cracker) “Jacks” manage to create a theatrical mood that becomes more enchanting as the night sky covers the stadium.
At the bottom of the ninth the score was 11 to 0, meaning the game was a total rout of the Yankees. Yet the fans remained calm and orderly as they headed for the subway climbing up the steep stairs to the platform.
The next evening the Yankees scored 4 in the first inning and were up 7 to 0 by the fourth inning. The final score was Yankees 11 and Boston Red Sox 1. You win some and you lose some but you always:
…. root, root, root
For the home team
If they don’t win it’s a shame
For it’s one
Three strikes you’re out
At the old ball game.
Elizabeth Howard is an author and journalist. Her books include: Ned O’Gorman: A Glance Back, a book she edited (Easton Studio Press, 2015), A Day with Bonefish Joe (David R.Godine, 2015), Queen Anne’s Lace and Wild Blackberry Pie, (Thornwillow Press, 2011). She lives in New York City and has a home in Laconia. You can send her a note at: Elizabeth@laconiadailysun.com