“Are you from New York?” “Why do you like the Yankees?” “The Yankees suck.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard these phrases throughout my life. My love for the Yankees was seemingly hereditary; my grandfather, an avid fan, passed it down to my mother, who in turn passed it down to me. While at first glance it seems easier to join the masses in rooting for the home team, being a Yankees fan in “Red Sox territory” has turned out to be extremely beneficial for my character.
I would say that the most obvious result of my fandom is that I learned resilience from my experiences surrounding the team. From a young age, my mom would shower me with different Yankees stories and media, which fueled my passion for the team. At the same time, I experienced the historic and enduring anti-Yankees sentiment that is commonplace in Massachusetts. This passion that my mother instilled in me faced constant backlash and questioning from my peers and even from adults. I had to make a choice early on: would I follow the crowd, or pave my own pinstriped path? In the end, I chose the latter. From then on, every criticism I would face for being a fan would only cause me to be more passionate.
The resilience required to be a Yankees fan in Massachusetts also helped me to cultivate self-confidence. I knew that people would always disagree with me about baseball. I knew that I would always be outnumbered by Red Sox fans. I knew I would always be loyal to the Yanks despite what others believed. I also knew that my team was the best and I wasn’t afraid to show it. People would say or think what they wanted, but I was instilled with a New York confidence in a Boston home that made me feel free to express myself. I always took pride in the fact that I was “the Yankees kid” and would often make friends through this identity. I have many friends who I gained through our shared love of baseball which helped me to fit in during high school. My Yankee identity gifted me with an easy icebreaker that could help me fit in during various moments in my Massachusetts life.
I’m not saying that everyone should become a Yankees fan (even though they’re the best). I’m not saying that everyone should follow sports or like some random team. Liking a team that’s despised in your home state and by most people around you isn’t for everyone. But the impacts that it has had on me as a person can’t be understated. The mixture of resilience, confidence, and identity instilled in me by Yankees baseball has shaped me into the person I am today, and will continue to shape who I will be in the future.
P.S. If Mr. Fanning or Mr. Hanson are reading this, they’ve definitely been shaking their heads disapprovingly the entire time.