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Red Sox-Yankees: A difference in taste

By Hannah Vickers

Section: Sports

October 15, 2010

The summer following fifth grade brought two of the most important events in my life; the birth of an obsession and the death of an inspiration. The birth came when I attended my first baseball game. It was a Yankee game: my initial glimpse into one of grandfather (PopPop)’s favorite things. I had watched my first full game the previous fall and was immediately hooked.

My favorite player instantly made an impact on me: Chuck Knoblauch hit an astounding three-run homerun that won the game … and he was only 5’8”! He was shorter than all the other players, just like I was (and still am) far from the tallest of my friends. I couldn’t get enough of this amazing team, or of my favorite player.

On Aug. 15, 1999, I walked into Yankee Stadium for the first time. I was overwhelmed: the view of the field; 50,000 people cheering; the unbelievable taste of my jumbo pretzel and Coke. Even to this day, anytime I smell that sensational combination of beer, hot dogs and cotton candy, I can’t help but feel absolutely, infinitely ecstatic. They lost the game, but I insisted on staying until Knoblauch grounded into a double play to end the ninth inning. Despite the loss, I still loved him, and left the game with a smile on my face, as well as a Derek Jeter shirt on my back. As odd as it may sound to be happy about a loss, my PopPop completely understood. He taught me that being a true fan means loving your team, win or lose. When we talked on the phone about the game, I heard the excitement in his voice. He was thrilled that I was beginning to appreciate something that meant so much to him, and I was overjoyed he grasped my newfound passion.

Nine days later when, on the morning of August 24, I found out that my PopPop had passed away the previous evening. I couldn’t understand: I had just talked to him; how could he be gone? I didn’t want to accept it, and in some ways, I don’t think I ever have.

As the only granddaughter of his four grandchildren, I always had a special bond with him. Even at that young age he supported me in anything and everything I wanted to do, inspiring me with his endless love for life. For the remainder of that 1999 season, I watched every single Yankee game. When they won the World Series, I couldn’t help thinking that my PopPop was in some way responsible for the success of his favorite team.

During the past decade, my love for the Yankees has grown into pure dedication. Inevitably, many question my mania. Most assume I like the Yankees when they win. However, once they see my disdain for fair-weather fans and my seemingly endless knowledge on all things pinstriped, their minds are eased: I am one of them. As the Yankees reclaimed their title as Champions of Baseball this October and enjoyed their first ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes in nine years, I found myself thinking about how thrilled PopPop would be. I hope that somehow he knows how his love for this team has grown in me, and that he is the inspiration of my glorious obsession.

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