Monday, November 2, 2009

The Way It Should Be

Here is Pete Hamill, on how rooting for the Yankees was looked upon in Old-Time Brooklyn:

They were loathed in Brooklyn. The Giant fans despised them. The rest of the United States prayed for their humiliation. Someone at the time wrote, “Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for United States Steel.”

The hatred was expressed in various ways. Fistfights, knifings and shootings were sometimes part of the discussion, which wasn’t simply about geographical loyalty or the frosty arrogance of the Yankee style. In Brooklyn, some of us insisted that it was also a moral debate. In the late ‘40s and through much of the ‘50s, the Yankee management was racist. Or so we thought. Certainly, eight years passed after the arrival of Jackie Robinson in the majors before the Yankees allowed Elston Howard to don their uniform.

We who had Robinson, Campanella and Newcombe on the roster, to name only three African-Americans, thus saw the Yankees for what we thought they were: a team built for suburbanites and members of country clubs. Even if we lost to them with heart-wrenching regularity, we were certain we were their moral superiors.

After the Dodgers and Giants lammed to the West Coast, the Yankees still did not get either allegiance or respect. When Rudy Giuliani first ran for office, some of this old contempt rose again among aging and unforgiving Brooklynites. Giuliani revealed that he spent his early days in Brooklyn as a Yankee fan. This was viewed as a definite sign of potential weirdness. Just the other day, he admitted that one of his earliest memories involved a threat by Dodger fans to hang him from a tree. He was, he says, about five years old at the time. No wonder his family swiftly moved to the suburbs.

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