On Sunday night I had the pleasure of going down to Boston and to Fenway for Opening Day. A large group of Bowdoin alumni were invited to watch the game in a box out by the Green Monster. Sadly, I was the only loser in the crowd.
Yes, it’s true. After so many years at Bowdoin, I am finally comfortable admitting to the Bowdoin family that I am a Yankees fan.
How did this happen? After all, I did grow up in Rhode Island. Back then, half the state rooted for the Red Sox and the other half for the Yankees. I was a Red Sox fan. My youth was spent watching the Red Sox on TV, listening to Curt Gowdy, and holding my breath for Ted Williams, Bill Monbouquette, Pete Runnels, and Pumpsie Green. When I came to Bowdoin, we were all Red Sox fans.
But then I crossed over to the “dark side.” I moved to New York City in 1976 to go to Columbia Law School, intending to spend only a few years in New York. It only took me 25 years to leave and come back to Bowdoin. It was over that quarter century that my allegiance changed.
Truth is, it was nearly impossible to follow the Red Sox in New York City—they weren’t on television every night, there was no Boston radio station offering the game on the Internet, and besides, in those days the Red Sox rarely won. That meant you couldn’t follow them in the playoffs and certainly not in the World Series. I suspect some will accuse me of jumping on the bandwagon of a winner, but back then the Yankees weren’t winning either.
My conversion to pinstripes began when my three sons developed an interest in baseball. Karen and I would take the boys to Yankee games and soon they were following the team’s every move. It’s hard to imagine today after nearly a decade in Maine, but our guys played baseball as kids on the shores of the Hudson River under the George Washington Bridge (with current Bowdoin shortstop Adam Marquit, and slugger Dan Hicks). The favorite place for birthday parties was behind first base at Yankee Stadium.
In the mid-90s, Karen won the bidding at a school auction for the prize of “bat boy for a day.” It was a cold afternoon in the Bronx when William and Henry served as honorary bat boys for the Yankees, and we still have the game balls signed by the team.
For so many of us, baseball is all about family and tradition. It is a game that connects parents to their children over the generations. My sons will say I rarely threw a baseball with them when they were growing up in the city; they’ll say I wasn’t home enough. But as we have all grown older, we remember our connections around the sport. For me, like so many dads, baseball was about our family connection and one of those connections with my guys is the Yankees.
There were a variety of challenges for our family when we left New York City for Brunswick, but among the most urgent was making sure we had a satellite dish installed so we could follow our team in Red Sox country.
The folks in Maine have tolerated our allegiance. But it hasn’t always been easy. The morning after the Yankees had lost a playoff to the Red Sox, one of my sons didn’t want to go to school. He was afraid the other kids would tease him. I reminded him that Yankees always win in the end, and I urged him to be tolerant.
At Bowdoin, Yankee fans represent diversity. People have been welcoming to me and I have discovered other Yankee fans in our midst—Pete Coviello, I am calling you out! There are also fans of the other faraway teams on campus: Professor of Religion and Asian Studies John Holt and the San Francisco Giants; Associate Professor of Education Nancy Jennings and the Chicago White Sox; and Professor of Economics Deb DeGraff and the Chicago Cubs, to name a few. (Deb, one day your dream will come true!)
There are a number of times that a “New Year” happens for us all. At Bowdoin, the New Year begins in the fall. But for so many of us in such an emotional way, the New Year begins with baseball in April.
Tim Foster, I’ll see you at The Stadium in October.
In the coming weeks, I will continue to offer my thoughts on subjects interesting to me or of importance to the College, but I want to hear your ideas too. If there is a subject you’d like me to address, send me an e-mail at email@example.com
Previous Bowdoin Daily Sun columns by President Barry Mills are available on the Bowdoin Web site.