You do remember Don Zimmer being thrown down by
Pedro, A-Rod cursed, the chants of "1918" and worse.
This weekend they will be at it again.
It is perhaps the oldest and strongest rivalry in
American sports history - the Yankees of New York versus the Red Sox
of Boston. Part of the rivalry is the stark contrasts in the images
of the two teams.
In Boston, they scream: "Yankees suck! Yankees suck!
And even when the Yankees are not playing in Boston
you can hear those words at Fenway during a Tampa Bay, Mets or a
The New York Yankees are the most successful of all
franchises in baseball history, in sports history. A club of leaders
and legends: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez, Bill Dickey, Earle
Combs, Joe McCarthy, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Thurman
Munson, Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi, Casey Stengel, Billy Martin,
Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Goose
Gossage, Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter . . . .
Through the years winning has been as much a part of
the ethos of the Yankees as the pinstriped uniforms, the monuments
and plaques. It was once said: "Rooting for the New York Yankees is
like rooting for General Motors."
For the Red Sox and its fans, winning at times has
not seemed as important as beating the Yankees and then winning. For
through the years, the success of the Sox has been measured against
Item: In 1925, the Yanks sought to trade a first
baseman even up to the Red Sox for Phil Todt. Boston passed on the
trade. The first baseman Lou Gehrig became one of the great players
of all time. Todt batted .258 lifetime with 57 home runs.
Item: Since shipping Babe Ruth to the Big Apple, the
Sawks have lost a Game Seven in the World Series, lost the flag in a
playoff in 1948 and 1978. The Sox lost game 7 of the World Series
four times since selling Ruth: 1946, 1967, 1975 and 1986.
Item: During a time of Yankee glory from 1919-1945,
the Red Sox never placed first in the eight-team American League,
finishing an average of thirty games behind in the standings. They
came in last nine times, and had five 100-plus-loss seasons.
The Yankee-Red Sox competition involves much more
than a baseball team representing Boston against a baseball team
representing New York. It is, in reality, a competition between the
provincial capital of New England and the mega-municipality that is
New York City: the different life-styles of the residents of those
areas, the different accents they speak in. The contrasting symbols
are like guideposts to their cities. It's the Charles River versus
the East River, Boston Common compared with Central Park.
History, style, culture, pace, dreams, self-images,
bragging rights - all are mixed in, mixed up with the rivalry in one
way or another. And the fact that both teams have been in the
American League since the beginning of the last century doesn't hurt
the competition either.
The late Bill Crowley, former Boston public relations
director, said: "Red Sox fans hate the Yankees desperately. The
pinstripes, the hoopla, the glamour - it is something that is very
deeply resented. And when they win - especially over us - you can
cast a pall over the entire area."
Red Sox territory comprises 5 states - Massachusetts
Vermont, Maine., New Hampshire, Rhode Island and half of
The Sox give away Western Connecticut to the Mets and
the Yankees, and there are pockets of resistance in Providence,
Rhode Island and Worcester, Massachusetts. Most of the pockets are
Italian. The people there were fans of Yankee stars like Crosetti,
Lazzeri, DiMaggio, Berra, Rizzuto. And they transmitted their
feelings on to their sons and grandsons.
Boston and New York attendance figures have ballooned
through Yankee-Sox encounters. Historically, thousands have taken
flights or motored or trained or bussed it between Boston and New
York. Some have gone for a single game; others have stayed for an
entire series. There have been times when the national television
networks have been outdrawn in the ratings by local stations
broadcasting the games between the ancient rivals.
to maximize the rivalry.
On the field , inside the white lines, the rivalry
has been characterized by some of baseball's wildest moments.
In all my years of covering the New York Yankees,"
notes New York Daily News sportswriter Bill Madden, "I can hardly
remember a game at Fenway Park that was a normal game. I'm sure
there were some but it seems like they have been low scoring,
tension filled, white knuckle games or these 10-9 barn burners where
no lead was safe. Players will never admit it but the intensity
level is up whenever the Yankees and Red Sox meet."
In the first game ever played at Fenway Park, on
April 12, 1912, the Sox trimmed the Yankees, 7-6 in 11 innings. The
game was finally played after it had been rained out for two
On August 12, 1934, what was then the largest crowd
in Fenway Park history, assembled to see Red Sox versus Yankees up
close, going at each other. They split a doubleheader and Babe Ruth
played his last game in a Yankee uniform in the Boston ballpark
where he had begun his professional career.
On August 7, 1956 as 36,350 watched as the Sox
defeated the Yankees, 1-0, in 11 innings. Ted Williams walked with
the bases loaded to drive in the winning run. "Terrible Ted" was so
infuriated, some would say, pissed off, at not being given a chance
to swing his bat that he sprayed Fenway Park with saliva.
Odd, awesome and unpredictable rallies have
contributed to the zany and wild mood - just part of the atmosphere
in meetings between the Yanks and Sox. New York had a six-run
eleventh inning in 1970, a seven-run ninth inning in 1940, an eight
run ninth inning in 1937, a ten-run fourth inning in 1915, an 11-run
seventh inning in 1952, a 13-run fifth inning in 1945.
In 1954, the Red Sox were up 5-1 lead over the
Yankees in the first game of a doubleheader and lost. They were
trailing 7-0 in the second game and won. The big Boston blow was a
Jimmy Piersall home run off Johnny Sain.
On August 29, 1967, both clubs struggled through 19
innings until Boston went down to defeat in the 20th inning. The
Yankees won the game, 4-3.
On September 19, 1981, Boston was able to pull out
an,8-5, triumph with a seven run eighth inning rally.
Many still talk about the long summer of 1949 when
the Yankees and the Red Sox battled for the pennant playing out
their drama in jammed stadiums before rabid and enraptured fans.
Each day was another time for the tension, the drama and the
excitement to be recharged.
Rivalry . . .
Let's get it on again!
# # #
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and
is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
on Twitter: http://twitter.com/south2nd
on Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?locale=en_US
on the Web: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~frommer
Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch.
*Autographed copies of Frommer books are available .
Other Frommer sports related articles can be
Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth
College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage
in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean.
This Article is Copyright
© 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.
All rights reserved worldwide.