I’ve lived in New York long enough now to consider myself a true New Yorker. New York is my home and my heart. If you asked any of my close friends to describe me, one of the first things they would probably say is, “She loves New York and she‘s a huge Yankees fan.” Yes, I am what you would call a die-hard. I have the Yankees NY logo tattooed on my left ankle, I hate the Red Sox with every fiber of my being, and you probably wouldn’t want to watch or attend a Yankees game with me in September or October. In a word, when it comes to the Yankees, I’m rabid.
To my friends and family back home in the south, however, I’m a traitor.
You see, I was born in Atlanta so, technically, I was born a Braves fan. Everyone I knew was a Braves fan. Even when my family moved back to my parents’ hometown of Gadsden, Alabama, my Dad would drive us over to Atlanta to see the games. A love of baseball and of the Braves was ingrained in me from birth. In middle school, I met my best friend Missy and she too loved baseball. She’s still my best friend to this day and she still knows more about baseball than any man I‘ve ever met. (Check out her blog entitled, Chicks Dig The Long Ball). Sometimes her dad would check us out of school early and drive us over to Atlanta to see a game.
I had another friend Kellie whose dad was nicknamed “Babe” and he also would take us to the games. I would actually buy a program at Fulton County Stadium and “score” the games. I also had quite the baseball card collection. Yes, I was a baseball nerd. Baseball was my true passion long before I discovered fashion and boys.
In the 80’s, the Braves had an amazing team consisting of players like Dale Murphy, Brett Butler, Bob Horner, Phil Neikro, Chris Chambliss and Bruce Benedict. Bruce Benedict was my favorite player and my one and only true baseball crush. (Although I’m currently a little sweet on Russell Martin. Must be a catcher thing).
My love affair with the Braves ended in 1983 when they traded Brett Butler to the Cleveland Indians. I actually cried when I heard the news. Of course, I was just a kid at the time and didn’t understand that baseball was a business and fan favorites could be traded just like baseball cards. It was then that I kind of lost my love for the game.
After attending college at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, I moved back to Atlanta to pursue my acting career. I was doing a lot of theatre and independent films, but I still had to have “day jobs” to support myself. The last day job I had prior to moving to New York was working as the Executive Assistant for a VP at a financial institution. My boss was originally from New York and was a true Yankees fan. His entire office was decorated with Yankees memorabilia. He schooled me in the history of the Yankees and re-ignited my love affair with baseball. Only this time, I was in love with a new team. I became a Yankees fan.
The first time I stepped foot onto the hollowed ground of the old Yankee Stadium, I got goose bumps. Touring Monument Park was a religious experience for me. You know what they say, you never forget your first time. I was devastated when they announced plans to build a new Yankee Stadium and was never a fan of tearing down the house that Ruth built. It’s taken me a long time to accept and love the new Yankee Stadium, but I do. I consider it my cathedral.
I’ve been through a lot of serious personal shit (sorry, no other way to say it) in my life over the last year. But when spring training rolled around, I headed down to Tampa for the opening day of Yankee’s pre-season baseball. I started to feel a little better. And then came opening day at Yankee Stadium. For all of my girlfriends (and a few of you guys who were forced to watch the movie), there’s a scene from the first Sex & The City movie, where Carrie and the girls attend a fashion show after Carrie’s break up with Big, and she states, “for the first time in a long time, I started to feel like myself.”
That’s how I feel when I go to Yankee Stadium. It’s my my happy place. Maybe it’s the because of childhood memories of my Dad taking me to the games. Maybe it’s just a love of the game in general. Whatever it is, it’s real.