Musings: My Dark Secret

I have rooted for the Boston Red Sox all my life, which, let’s face it, is a really long time.

I was born a Red Sox fan and baptized a Catholic, in that order. (Please don’t tell my brother I said that – he’s a priest.) I have lived through the boom times and the bum times and my loyalty has never wavered. I am a card-carrying member of the BoSox Club, the team’s official booster club, and have been for decades. My credentials are in order. I am a Red Sox guy through and through. And yet – and yet – I have a dark secret that I have kept deeply hidden from prying eyes for lo, these many years, afraid that my family would disown me and that my closest and most trusted associates would feel betrayed if they ever learned the truth.. The time has come, however to clear the air, to, as they used to say in the old cowboy movies, ‘fess up. I can only hope for your merciful forgiveness. Are you sitting down? Well (gulp) here goes.

I don’t hate the Yankees.

There, it’s out. One can just imagine the shocked gasp coming from the throats of long-time friends. Within the last ten seconds my name has probably been deleted from thousands of contact lists. (This newsletter does not reach thousands of people, but news travels fast, you know.) Before organizing a posse to come after me, let me explain. The fact that I don’t hate them doesn’t mean that I actually like the Yankees. I spend every morning during the season going over the box scores and any day that they lose is a good day for me. They have caused me more dashed hopes and unfulfilled dreams than anything else in my life. Well, there was this girl back in college, but that’s a story for another time.

I have an industrial strength dislike for ‘em but I don’t hate ‘em. I hate war and cancer and that’s enough to fill up my hate bin. Besides, there have always been players on the Yankees that I couldn’t help but like. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera were not only great players, they were great ambassadors for the game. What’s not to like about that? Even when I was a kid they had Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto. Everybody liked them, me included.

I’ve even liked some of their managers, Joe Torre and Casey Stengel, for example. As a matter of fact when I was a kid I used to hang around Fenway Park trying to get autographs. This was back in the olden days, long before autographs became a big business. We just did it to get up close to the players and to interact with them. It was hobby, not an investment strategy. One Saturday morning when the Yankees were in town we kids, maybe a dozen of us, were stationed outside the entrance to the old Hotel Kenmore, where all the visiting teams used to stay. Out the door came Casey Stengel with a young rookie in tow, the kid was so young that he still had traces of acne on his face. We set out in hot pursuit. “Oh Mr. Stengel, please sign my book. Please, please.” (We all had autographbooks, no one gave a thought to carrying around memorabilia like bats or balls.) As we trailed along behind Casey was saying to the rookie, “These little bastards are no damn good. They just want bad things to happen to you.” But as he was grousing about us he took every book from every kid, signed it and handed it to the rookie to sign.

So it was that on the very same page of my autographbook I had the signatures of Casey Stengel and Mickey Mantle. That book would be worth serious money today if it hadn’t been thrown out with the trash years ago.

So please don’t hate me for not hating the Yankees. After all, none of us is perfect