From the Boston Globe:
Charles Steinberg, the Red Sox’ executive vice president of public affairs, ……was caught a bit off guard by the calls he fielded yesterday regarding the team’s rules against wearing offensive T-shirts to ballgames.
Especially, Steinberg said, since the Sox have had the same guidelines in place since the start of the 2004 season, in response to complaints from fans objecting to such T-shirts as those accusing the Yankees of inhaling excessively, but in blunter language. Evidently, the issue resurfaced yesterday because Boston Magazine’s website published an item referring to the Sox’ practice of asking fans to turn inside out T-shirts that they consider offensive — again, most of which target the Yankees and their most prominent stars, such as Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
“About two years ago, at the beginning of the 2004 season, in response to requests from many, many fans, we started the practice of asking fans to turn their T-shirts inside out,” Steinberg said. “The compliance rate has been outstanding ever since we started. It has not been an issue, and it has contributed greatly to a more family-friendly, civil ambience.”
Understand, Steinberg said, the Sox have not instituted a formal prohibition against wearing such T-shirts. They are relying, he said, on the goodwill of their customers to comply.
“If someone wants to make a point, we’re not trying to make some legal claim,” Steinberg said, referring to the freedom of speech issues raised. “If it’s a cool night, we might ask someone to wear their jacket over it. Our security people use their judgment that [wearing such shirts] is not going to be a problem. It is not a rigid concept; we rely on a spirit of cooperation and collaboration.
“I asked [director of security Charles] Cellucci, and he said he doesn’t remember anyone being ejected [for offensive attire].”
The Yankees have had a similar practice of requiring fans to reverse offensive T-shirts at the turnstiles in Yankee Stadium, but there isn’t a team in the major leagues that has yet to find a way to curb the practice of fans chanting the very words they are compelled not to wear on their T-shirts.
Interesting, just three years ago, the Red Sox had a different position on this. From ESPN.com at that time:
According to a survey by The News Tribune of Tacoma, 16 teams allow such shirts, while 14 do not. The controversy prompted several to review their obscenity policies.
Bob DiBiasio, a spokesman for the Cleveland Indians, said the team would ask fans to turn the shirts inside-out.
“Ultimately we are responsible for entertainment in an atmosphere that is good for adults and little kids,” he said.
No such policy is expected in Boston, said Red Sox spokesman Kevin Shea.
The distaste Red Sox fans have for the Yankees is rooted in their team’s sale of Babe Ruth to New York — and in perhaps thousands of other events since then.
” ‘Yankees suck’ means something different to us in Boston,” Shea said.
Related, earlier this season, I was up in the Bronx and saw a shirt for sale outside the Stadium, near the parking garage up around 164th Street, that read (something like):
“Boston: There was no curse. You just sucked all these years.”
I wonder what would happen if someone walked in to Fenway wearing that one?