Red “Sux”: Living in Boston as a Yankees Fan
After living in Boston for a school year, I’ve picked up many things. I know where the best food trucks are and which streets get you to class the quickest. I know where to get the best pizza and what events are the cheapest.
Most obviously, I’ve learned that it’s hard to be a Yankees fan.
It’s not hard being a Yankees fan. Quite the opposite. I love my Bronx boys and so do most people I knew before I moved out of New York. My cousins have mounted autographed balls on mantels. My best friend’s parents have a room dedicated to them, complete with navy walls and grey trim. I had teachers that didn’t give homework on game nights because they couldn’t be bothered to grade when Cici was pitching. My mom can rip you apart with stats and facts and examples as to why the Yankees are scientifically the best MLB team (and she was a bio major, so she knows her stuff).
It isn’t hard being a Yankees fan. It’s hard being a Yankees fan in Boston.
Like most starry eyed seniors choosing colleges, the unofficial college town of the country sounded very appealing. It was only after my deposit was sent off, signed, sealed, and delivered, that it hit me I’d be in a city full of people trained from infancy to despise my kind. In the words of musical geniuses George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, “Damn Yankees!”
The Yankee-Red Sox rivalry is long and vicious and in no need of recounting as most people who don’t live under a rock are well aware of the biggest enemies in sports history. A long and dirty history pretty much means the Yankees hate the Sox, and the Sox really hate the Yankees.
That’s where the hard part comes in.
Once, I was walking to class in a Yankees sweatshirt and a truck driver stopped in the middle of the road to yell out his window.
A homeless man in the Common refused my change after seeing my Yankees socks poking out from my boots.
When the Pats won the Super Bowl, my friends hit the streets to celebrate, while I, a lowly Giants fan, stayed behind to mourn lost opportunity. When they got back, they gleefully told me the chants in the Common ranged from “Go Pats!” to “Screw the Yankees!”
I was confused, but resigned, to say the least. It’s hard proclaiming your Pinstripe Pride when you live with the enemy.
But, after seeing my drunken friends try and throw away my Yankees blanket my first night here, I figured this not-so-phenomenal phenomenon was worth documenting with a little experiment.
I’ve worn Yankee gear for a year, walked around in hats, bundled up in jackets. I lived in Boston a year and got by mostly unscathed. I went to Fenway decked out in Yankees gear and didn’t get a single comment. But considering it was Derek Jeter’s last series ever and I was pretty severely ugly-crying, I think the fans could recognize an unstable girl when they saw one.
All things considered, this would be a miniscule experiment. One day of trying to get a rise from Red Sox fans, squeezing in a years worth of reactions into one day.
I brought out the big guns. My Johnny Damon shirt. Risky move, I know, but what is good reporting without a little danger? For those not particularly versed in Yankee-Red Sox rivalry, Damon went to the Yankees in 2006 after being a part of the team that broke the curse of the Bambino in 2004.
Needless to say he’s a sore spot. And a big middle finger to Red Sox fans everywhere.
So, for my Day of The Minuscule Experiment, I put on an old Damon jersey and hit the streets. I went to Fenway, thinking that would be a sure fire way to get some reaction. I stepped off the train feeling half vindictive and half scared for my wellbeing. I figured I was going to get some pretty intense comments.
Incorrect. Turns out when you go the Fenway Park on a random Tuesday when the Sox aren’t playing, it’s pretty empty (As a Yankees fan I stand by the fact that there is no way I could have known the schedule). Walking around the perimeter I only got one dirty look from a lone patron at Bleacher Bar, which doesn’t say much since you’re bound to get at least one dirty look a day no matter what team you support.
I took the train back downtown and walked around the Commons and Public Garden. There, I was not disappointed.
I walked past the George Washington statue and saw a family posing for a picture in front of it. The dad stands tall in the center with a Big Papi jersey on. I discreetly side stepped in front of them and pretended to be interested in the pond.
I thought that if I couldn’t get a rise from a Massachusetts dad wearing a Papi jersey then I couldn’t get anyone. Just around the time I was ready to waltz off and show my back to other unsuspecting Bostonians, I hear a loud scoff followed by a loud, “Damon sucks!”
Ready to defend, I turned around, only to find the family dispersed, heading for the streets. But not before I missed the lovely middle finger from the daughter.
It was like all the Red Sox hatred was unleashed. College guys decked out in Bruins sweatshirts booed me. A young babysitter with a baby carriage yelled some colorful profanities, which elicited cheers from tourists. A young man with his arm around his girlfriend tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Yankees suck, what the hell are you doing?” It felt like even the pigeons on the streets hated me.
After about an hour it was time for me to throw in the towel. There’s only so much Yankee abuse a girl can take. But not before a security guard swiped me into 10 West and asked me why I was wearing “that terrible shirt”.
When I laughed and told him it’s a Damon jersey he shook his head.
Sitting in the safety of my home, my little Yankee haven, I reflected. The results were not shocking. And hey Red Sox fans never pretended to be the nicest fans on Earth so this was expected.
There was a small silver lining, though. Like I do every few days, I saw a Yankee fan. Walking down West Street in his navy hat, he was there. And like all Yankee fans are capable of doing, we had a small moment of silent communication. A passing connection that only two Bombers fans can partake in. It’s a moment where we acknowledge the mutual struggle, and promise to persevere.
I swear it’s a thing.
I know that this was just the trial I must face living in Boston. As Yankee fans in Boston, the endeavors are harsh, but we push through, if for no other reason than to annoy our Red Sox colleagues. So, yes, living in Boston is hard for people like me. But I suppose it’s the price we pay for our team.
In Memory of Yogi Berra