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I support the Yankees. Here’s how I stayed friends with a Red Sox fan.

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My friend Scott Smith and I are living proof that Red Sox and Yankees fans can play well together.

It didn’t hurt that the early ’90s, when we shared a flat in Stamford and were colleagues in the newsroom, weren’t privileged years in the timeline of a rivalry that has passed the milestone of the century. The Yankees finished 20 games south of the 1992 standings. At least we were ahead of the last Sox (23 out).

Even this cold in the rivalry did not freeze him. In the hot stove months that followed, Scott bravely weathered a snowstorm on Saturday to meet the deadline. He only asked that the aisle be kept for his return. I shoveled the space, then blocked it with a snowman wearing Scott’s clothes, including his sunglasses and beloved Sox cap.

Only a Boston fan would ruin my snowman.

The 2021 edition of The Rivalry keeps bringing back memories of my personal reel. Typically, Scott and I attended games at Yankee Stadium, where he boldly wore said cap. A few weeks before my wedding, we drove to Fenway Park in Boston for the Yankees-Sox game on August 14, 1995. I brought my Yankees cap. Scott brought his father, Stephen, a native of Massachusetts who had few rivals for love of the BoSox. After the Sox won 9-3, I joked Scott’s dad that he seemed to like my headgear getting taunted even more than winning. But I realized that this former Connecticut math teacher of the year was using baseball in life’s lesson plan. He instilled in Scott the importance of respecting baseball rather than the team, of always keeping it civilized. What Scott and I share is an appreciation for the history of the game.

The Yankees-Sox relationship is considered “arguably the fiercest rivalry of all American sports” by no less an expert than Wikipedia (how could they go wrong?). But it feels more like a sibling rivalry, as they share more common DNA than the other teams. They are just brothers bickering across generations to claim the same ring of toys.

Clothing is important in The Rivalry. As Jerry Seinfeld pointed out, the sport is all about promoting laundry because the players are interchangeable (“I want my team’s clothes to beat the other town’s clothes”).

I wore a Boston cap to Scott’s wedding and borrowed some Sox clothes a few years later for a Halloween party. My wife Lisa and I set out to describe the origins of The Rivalry, the 1919 sale of Sox superstar Babe Ruth to the Yankees, aka “The Bambino’s Curse” superstition accused of preventing Beantown from claiming a crown. for 86 years.

Lisa painted her face a ghostly gray and wore a woolen Yankees uniform that I bought my quarters to buy when I was 10 (my mother ironed Ruth’s No.3 in the 70s). I put on a Sox cap and Scott’s jacket (albeit disheveled) and painted over a black eye. Scott wasn’t at the party, but his wardrobe had a blast.

The Sox broke the curse in 2004, while shaming the Yankees in the playoffs by rebounding from a 0-3 deficit (the only time this has happened in baseball history). A few months later, I had an afternoon to kill in Boston and walked through gentle snowfall to Fenway.

I felt like I had slipped into the opposing canoe during the tour. The young guide offered a history lesson in the press room. He misrepresented the details of Ruth’s move to New York City. Then he mutilated Carl Yastrzemski’s stats as a Little Leaguer rookie trying to spell the name. I kept staring at the other guests, all dressed in the same red and navy team colors. No one seemed to recognize that he had clearly failed to memorize the script.

Then he pointed out Enemy Pole in right field and scored another “E” on that story. It seemed bad for the Yankees fan to bark from the cheap seats on Fenway’s story, but I couldn’t keep my native New York City mouth shut. Just as I raised my hand, an older man in front of me was graciously correcting every detail without raising his voice, the thick accent using less “R” than the notes on Disney Plus.

I bought a souvenir championship cap for Scott and looked for four places (representing each base) where I could rub some Fenway grain. After the guide moved away from the perch above the famous left field wall (famous for most people, if not for him), I reached out and passed the hat on to the green monster.

The cap also made a trip along the roof of the canoe and what I considered the perfect seat behind. As the stadium was undergoing a facelift at the time, we weren’t allowed on the pitch. I presented a pitch to the guide’s supervisor and got permission to add dirt and grass to the character of the cap.

Yeah, I gave Scott a dirty cap.

Six years later, when we adopted our son, Scott gave The Kid (not a Ted Williams reference) a hand-painted piggy bank with the Yankees logo on it.

The twists and turns of the past week have rekindled memories of a high point (or low, if you’re a Sox fan) of The Rivalry, the 1978 season that ended for Boston with the help of the unlikely hero. of the Yankees Bucky Dent, who ripped a dinger against the monster in a playoff game on October 2.

After the Yankees swept the Sox last weekend’s series to take the lead in the Wild Card race, Scott and I met for lunch at Las Vetas Lounge in Fairfield.

Once again, it all came back to the laundry. Boston had chosen to dress in the color of Tweety Bird as new alternate uniforms wore them through a winning streak. They had clearly forgotten the lesson on superstitions.

“So what do you think of the yellow jerseys?” I asked.

“Hate them,” Scott muttered.

We exchanged memories, some of which I had forgotten.

“I still haven’t forgiven you for hiring me to interview Mike Torrez,” he reminded me wryly of our days in the sports department at Greenwich Time.

Oh, that’s right, Torrez threw that doomed fastball at Dent.

The queue to the counter eventually cleared up, so we left our circle on the bridge. As Scott started ordering, I noticed we were framed by a hanging replica of the iconic Yankee Stadium frieze.

The guy behind the counter gestured with his pen at the Red Sox mask on Scott’s face. Laundry again.

“It’s going to cost you an extra 15%. “

So I paid for lunch. That’s the price you pay to be a Yankees fan.

John Breunig is editor of the editorial page for the Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time. [email protected]; twitter.com/johnbreunig.



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