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Red Sox-Yankees, One More Time!

It is the Red Sox of Boston versus the Yankees of New York squaring off in the American League championship series - one more time. For the fans in New England and those in the Big Apple - it is the best of times now.

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. The Red Sox are Avis. The Yankees are Hertz.

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 Baltimore game.

In New York, they chant: "1918! 1918!"

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 in deep centerfield. It was once said: "Rooting for the New York Yankees is like rooting for General Motors." Unlike General Motors, the Yankees roll on, roll over teams, especially the Red Sox. The Yanks are the champions, the front runners, the crème de la crème of Major League Baseball.

The Boston Red Sox, less successful, more human, more vulnerable, have seemed like the rest of us. For the team 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 Yankee success.

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: There have been a dozen years of Boston runner-up finishes to Bronx Bombers - 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1949,1977, 1978, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002. The second place blues have frustrated Red Sox Nation and further stoked the coals of the Boston-New York rivalry.

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.

For the fans of the old Brooklyn Dodgers, the slogan used to be this hopeful refrain: "Wait 'til Next Year." For Boston fans, it has been this sarcastic snipe: "When are they going to fold this year?"

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.

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

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.
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Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch. 
*Autographed copies of Frommer books are available .

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Harvey 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.

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