They are at it again this second weekend of July 2012,
just as they have been at it all through the decades the
two franchises have been part of Major League Baseball,
since the beginning of the last century.
writing and interviewing for my books Remembering
Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of the
House That Ruth Built and Remembering
Fenway Park: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home
of the Boston Red Sox, I had as back story and
front story the narrative of the oldest and strongest
rivalry in American baseball history - the Yankees of
New York versus the Red Sox of Boston. I wanted the
more than 200 people I interviewed to talk ballparks.
Most did. But many wanted to also talk Sox-Yanks
rivalry. And why not?
It is not only a competition of teams,
cities, styles, ballparks, fans and, at times, writers.
It is a rivalry of contrasting images. The New York
Yankees represent the most successful franchise in
baseball history. It's a club of legends with Ruth,
Gehrig, Combs, Dickey, Ford, Berra, Munson, Raschi,
Reynolds, Mantle, Maris, Jackson, Jeter, Bernie
Williams, Mattingly, Clemens and many others. Through
the years, winning has been as much a part of Yankee
baseball as the pinstriped uniforms, and the monuments
and plaques. The New York Yankees are the most
successful of all franchises in baseball history, in
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.
The Red Sox - less successful, more
human, more vulnerable - have most of the time 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 the fans of the old
Brooklyn Dodgers, the slogan used to be "Wait 'til Next
Year." For Boston fans it has been -"When are they going
to fold this year?"
The competition is the Charles River
versus the East River; Boston Common compared to Central
Park. History, culture, style, pace, dreams, and
self-images. All are mixed up in the competition in one
way or another.
Don Zimmer: I didn't even know there
was a big rivalry until I came to the Red Sox. But I
found out soon enough. I was coaching at third base in
1974 at Yankee Stadium, and the fans were throwing so
much crap on the field that I had to put on a helmet for
The rivalry is violence. It is also
the Babe and Bucky and Butch. It is Carl Yastrzemski
trotting out to left field at Fenway with cotton
sticking out of his ears to muffle the boos of
disheartened Sox fans. It is the Scooter, the Green
Monster, and the Hawk. It is Rich McKinney on April 22,
1972 making four errors on ground balls to third base
that figured in Boston's scoring of nine runs to defeat
the Yankees, 11-7. It is Joe Dee versus the Thumper, Yaz
and the Commerce Comet, Mombo and King Kong.
The rivalry is Mickey Mantle slugging
a 440-foot double at Yankee Stadium in 1958 and tipping
his cap to the Red Sox bench. It's Williams spitting,
Jackson gesturing and Martin punching. Fisk's headaches
from the tension he felt coming into Yankee Stadium. It
is also the Yankees' Mickey Rivers jumping out of the
way of an exploding firecracker thrown into the
visitors' dugout at Fenway.
The rivalry consists of signs: ‘I LOVE
NEW YORK, TOO, IT IS THE YANKEES I HATE,' or 'BOSTON
CHOKES. BOSTON SUCKS. BOSTON DOES IT IN STYLE. ‘
Baseball’s Greatest Rivalry – the
Boston Red Sox vs. the New York Yankees just kept on
going at fever pitch as through the 1949 season. On
June 28th after missing the first 69 games of the season
because of an ailing heel‚ Joe DiMaggio finally returned
to the Yankee lineup. His single and home run helped the
Bombers beat the Red Sox 6-4 in a night game at Fenway
before 36‚228‚ the largest night crowd in Fenway history
to that point.
The next day the Yankees came
back from seven runs down. DiMag torqued the charge with
a 3-run homer in the 5th and another home run in the 8th
"You can hate the Yankees," one sign
read, "but you've got to love Joe DiMaggio!"
In the final game of the series, after
seven innings before another SRO crowd, the Yankees were
in front,3-2. Then the great Joe DiMaggio put the game
and the series away for the Yankees with a three-run
smash off the light tower giving his team a 6-3 win and
a sweep of the.
In 1967, the Sox finished 20 games
ahead of the 9th-place Yankees. Boston was going into
the World Series. People started tearing apart the
scoreboard, ripping the sod off of the field, just
trashing the place.
DICK BRESCIANI: (Sox historian) 1985.
We're opening the season against the Yankees. Terrible
weather. Teams were going to work out the best they
could. Joe Mooney, head groundskeeper, had covered the
mound. Ron Guidry wanted to throw off it and removed the
tarp. A bellowing voice screamed: “Get the hell off my
"I’m a Yankee pitcher," Guidry said.
“I don’t care who the hell you are.”
Joe had a hose and he was spraying water. “If you don’t
get off there, you’re going to get the full force," he
said. Guidry left.
DAN SHAUGHNESSY: (top shelf baseball
columnist) 2004 in my view is still the greatest sports
story ever told. The idea that you would have the Red
Sox win their first World Series in 86 years, to do it
at the expense of the Yankees and to do it in something
that hadn’t been done in 140 years in a seven-game
series in baseball. The World Series was clearly
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 still sometimes chant: "1918! 1918!"
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: 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.
I could go on and on, have even
written a book on the subject of the great rivalry with
my son Fred: ttp://www.dartmouth.edu/~frommer/REDSOXvYANKEES.htm
You pays your money and takes your
choice –Yankees, Red Sox, neither. Just enjoy the
rivalry. There’s always something new to it.
It sure would.