I’ve been introducing my kids to all things Yankees for the past couple of years.
My daughter, who’s almost eight, has been into it for a while now. In fact, when we went to Bat Day at the Stadium this year, and I suggested in the bottom of the 8th, after two outs – with the Yankees losing six to three – that we leave the park and go out to get something to eat, she looked at me and said “Don’t tell me you’re asking us to leave before a full nine innings are played!” (In the end, due to lobbying by wife and son, both very hungry, we caved and did leave – because the Stadium stopped selling food at that point. But, as we were leaving, my daughter said to me: “When we come to our game next month, there’s no way we’re not staying for the full game.”)
My son has really been ramping up his Yankees fandom this season. Part of that is because both the kids are playing in Little League this year for the first time. So, we’ve been on baseball/softball overload for the last three months with going to their games, Lakewood BlueClaws games, and Yankees games.
In addition to Bat Day, I took my son to a game this season where the Yankees pounded the White Sox and we had a lot of fun that day. Since the teams in my kids’ Little League are mostly named after big league teams – he’s on the Cubs and she’s on the Angels – he’s been very interested in learning about what the other teams in baseball are called, where they’re from, etc., outside of the ones that he already knew about (like the Twins and Angels, who he’s also seen at Yankee Stadium before, and the Mets and Red Sox, who he’s heard me talk about when the Yankees play them).
So, my son knows about the Boston Red Sox…a little bit. And, one day, he comes home from kindergarten and says to me “Dad, I know what the Red Sox wear on their hat. It’s the letter ‘B.’”
Hearing this, I asked him “What’s this all about?” To that he explained to me that one of his classmates – who I will call “Remy” (to protect his identity) – is a Red Sox fan and that he wears his Red Sox cap to class.
Now, keep in mind, we live – and our kids attent school – in central New Jersey. So, it’s more typical to see Yankees, Mets and Phillies fans in our neck of the woods.
Later that night, I asked my wife – who is very involved with my son’s kindergarten class, the kids and the other mothers – “What’s the deal with Remy in our son’s class? The kid wears a Red Sox cap to school?” And, she told me that she’s met Remy’s dad a few times and he’s always wearing something Red Sox related – like a T-Shirt, jacket, or cap – so, he probably got it from his father. “O.K.,” I think to myself, “that” makes sense.
Moving forward, my son’s kindergarten class had a trip recently to one of these environmental centers where the kids learn about bugs, snakes, frogs and such. And, my wife was on the trip – along with some other moms. The kids were told to wear appropriate clothing for mucking around in the woods looking at this stuff – including caps to keep the bugs out of their hair. And, as you can guess where this is going…”Remy” wore his Red Sox cap.
Now, as my wife explained it to me, some of the staff at the environmental center were ragging on Remy, pretty good, about being a Red Sox fan. When she told me this, my reaction was “Well, if he’s going to be walking around in New Jersey wearing a Red Sox cap everyday, then he better get used to having to hear about it.”
My wife’s quick reaction to me saying this was: “Steve, he’s just six years old. Com’on…really?”
She has a point – of course. And, my next comment was “Hey, then blame his father for doing this to him.”
This whole thing got me into thinking about why we choose the teams that we do root for…
I’m a Yankees fan. Both my father and his father were/are Yankees fans. But, no one in my family pushed me towards baseball or the Yankees. It just happened.
Now, I’m just as “bad” as the father for “Remy” – since I’ve really funneled my kids into the Yankees. So, I can see, easily, how some kids become fans of a certain team because of their family.
But, I’ve heard many an interesting story from others on how they became fans of a certain team too.
Recently, someone told me that he’s a Red Sox fan – even though he was born and raised in New Jersey. When I asked him how this happened, he explained that he has two brothers and the three of them who play Wiffle Ball in the backyard when they were very young. And, one brother was always the Yankees, the other brother was always the Mets, which left just the Phillies or Red Sox for him – and he took Boston and it stuck. Crazy, huh?
Years ago, I once met a guy, briefly, outside Yankee Stadium who was from Boston who was a Yankees fan. I asked him “How does that happen?” And, he told me that his father was a huge Red Sox fan and he wanted to bust his old man’s balls as bad as possible – so, he started rooting for the Yankees and never stopped.
And, about seven years ago, through the kids, I met another dad – around my age – who was another nutty Yankees fan. At a party for one of his kids, he introduced me to his brother who was all decked out in Mets stuff. So, referring to his brother’s attire, I asked him “You guys grew up in the same house. How does that happen?” And, he explained that his brother was a lot younger than him – and just got into baseball around 1986 when the Mets were great and Gooden and Strawberry got him hooked.
I guess there are many roads which lead us into the teams we root for…sometimes it’s forced on us, sometimes it’s happenstance residual from “fill in the blank,” and sometimes it’s for reasons why we don’t know, for sure. How about you? What’s your story?