A Dream of Fields 8: The New York Yankees

I’m a Red Sox fan. Going into Yankee Stadium is like crossing into enemy territory. Better take cover and wear a neutral National League baseball cap…

Sunday, July 25, 1999, 1:35pm

Yankee Stadium

08Yankees

New York Yankees 2, Cleveland Indians 1

The final leg of our three-park trip brought us back to New York. However, Interstate 95 doesn’t connect Philadelphia to NYC. It goes north to Trenton and then just kinda disappears. Fortunately, we brought a map with us in case we got lost.

The Trenton confusion wasn’t the only time we feared arriving late for the game. It was a Sunday afternoon game, so we were on a relatively tight schedule. We found our way back to major highways and got to highways around New York, but we hit some kind of backup trying to get to the off-ramp we needed. We were maybe about half a mile or so away from the exit and barely going five miles an hour. All the other lanes were fine, so we didn’t know what the holdup was.

Well, I learned to drive in Boston. Back then, I was a little bit more of an aggressive driver than I am now. I pulled out of our non-moving exit lane and drove ahead the half-mile only to cut in front of someone at the exit. I’m sure I got honked at, flipped off, etc., and one of my friends told me I could have been a New York cab driver in another life.

Anyway, we made it to Yankee Stadium and went to our upper deck seats. At the Mets and Phillies games, we struck up conversations with the people around us in the stands, and in both cases, we encountered friendly people willing to talk to us. That was not the case with the people near us at Yankee Stadium. They must have sniffed out that we were Red Sox fans in disguise.

My “neutral” NL cap was not the Phillies cap I had bought the night before upon professing my love for the Phillies—mainly out of fear that Philadelphia was too close to New York and therefore also an enemy team. Instead, I wore an Arizona Diamondbacks cap (I liked the insignia—the capital A with the triangle snake pattern down one side). That must have been the tip-off. It was their second year of existence (two years before they beat the Yankees in the World Series), so why would anyone be wearing one? In New York?

Pitching for the Yankees was Roger Clemens, one-time ace of the Boston Red Sox, in his first year with the Yankees. Pitching for the Indians was their ace at the time, Bartolo Colon. Ace vs. ace, so you’d expect a pitching duel. We were expecting a pitching duel. Look at the score above, 2-1, which looks like a pitching duel score.

This was no pitching duel. This … was … the … slowest … moving … low-scoring … game … ever. And not because no one near us spoke to us or because the weather was hot.

There were a lot of full counts. Honestly, I don’t know how many times the count went to 3 balls and 2 strikes, but the box score says there were 12 walks in the game. They couldn’t have all been in the same inning since it was a low-scoring game. Many other of those full counts led to ground outs or other outs.

Going into the bottom of the ninth inning, the score was tied 1-1. With apologies to all my friends that are Red Sox fans, but we were rooting for the Yankees to win. Mind you, we really wanted the Indians to win despite our “cheer the home team” policy. A Yankees loss would have helped the Red Sox a little (in the end, it didn’t matter since they both made the playoffs that year. Yankees won the division, the Sox were the AL Wild Card, and they met in the ALCS where the Yanks won 4 games to 1). We just wanted the game to end.

And it did. Ricky Ledee hit a one-out walk-off solo home run. Game over. Finally.

The majestic architecture and mystique of Yankee stadium must have gotten to us. We were Yankees fans for one inning. Well, technically for two at-bats. I would never have cheered for the Yankees had they been playing the Red Sox. But can I ever be forgiven for a momentary lapse of allegiance?

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Check out the other posts in this series:

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. Minnesota Twins
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Baltimore Orioles
  5. Montreal Expos
  6. New York Mets
  7. Philadelphia Phillies

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