So it happened. A miracle. In the 2009 World Series, I became a Yankee fan. May Dad forgive me.
My first memory of why I should hate the Yankees goes back to when I was kid in the 1950s. My dad had a simple political analysis as to why being a Yankee fan was not possible in our house.
He was a liberal FDR Democrat. Liberals, he taught me, cared about the little guy and always rooted for the underdog. Republicans, he believed, had most of the money and had most of the advantages and won most of the time (These were the Eisenhower years, after all, where the GOP controlled the Congress and the White House).
We lived in Jersey City, and there were two other New York teams available to root for besides the Yankees: the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants.
The Dodgers, my dad would say, were the blue-collar guys, affectionately called the “Bums.” They brought up Jackie Robinson and broke the race barrier. Normally they would be the liberals, the good guys, and worth rooting for.
But wait. They had one major deficiency.
They didn’t have No. 24. They didn’t have the Say Hey Kid, our hero. They didn’t have Willie Mays. The N.Y. Giants did. So we were Giants fans.
Another reason: The Giants, dad explained, were more middle class, more in the middle-of-the-road. Always be a liberal, he taught me, but it’s OK to be in the middle too so you can understand both sides. If you want to be a politician some day, he advised, that’s where the votes are.
So we were Giants fans.
And what about the Yankees? I would ask, knowing what his answer and explanation would be, but wanting dad to repeat it for the 106th time.
“The Yankees????” he would ask with consternation. “The Yankees????”
My father explained his hatred for the Yankees:
“You see, the Yankees win all the time — they have all that money — they even wear pinstripes on their uniforms, for goodness sake. Why, they walk, talk and look like [long pause, a look of disgust] … Republicans!!!!”