If you are reading this, then you are most likely a hardcore, die-hard fan of the New York Yankees. I am, and there are more than a few reasons to love the Bombers. However, how can you explain love? It’s not always that easy. I’ll give it a shot: I am going to tell you how I became so interested in this team.
Ever since I can remember, the first sport that captivated me was soccer. But I started watching baseball when I was around nine or ten, which is circa 1998-1999. My memories of those days are vague, but I do remember things like David Wells’ perfect game in the 1998 regular season and Scott Brosius’ World Series heroics.
That team was really something: I loved Bernie Williams and Paul O’Neill, but the Core Four will always have a special place in my heart. I enjoyed watching Derek Jeter blossom into a young star, not to mention Andy Pettitte and the great Mariano Rivera.
Strangely enough, my childhood idols were Jeter and... Ken Griffey Jr.! Thank God I didn’t turn out to be a Mariners fan. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great franchise that has had many, many good players, but there’s something about the Yankees that can’t be explained.
I remember when Ken Griffey Jr.’s Slugfest came out in 1999 for the Nintendo 64. I could play that game for hours with my friends, especially choosing the Yankees as my team.
As I grew up and watched a lot of baseball, Mike Mussina and Roy Halladay were my favorite pitchers. I don’t know why, but I found Halladay to be a fascinating pitcher. Well, I know why, but I look back and think it was a little strange. As for Moose, I had a weakness for that knucklecurve. He was so polished, like he was always in command of every situation.
The rough stretch
I do remember the Subway Series, but you’ll find it curious that the highest point of my Yankees’ fandom were losing seasons: between 2001 and 2004.
I stayed up late to watch the entire 2001 World Series. I screamed like crazy with Jeter’s walk-off homer in Game Four against Byung-Hyun Kim. But that fateful Game Seven was a tough pill to swallow. I am not ashamed to tell you that I cried myself to sleep that night. I hated Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Luis Gonzalez for years. I was 12.
The 2003 season was almost as hard to digest. The seven-game battle against the Boston Red Sox was so exhausting that New York couldn’t cope with the Florida Marlins. At least Aaron Boone gave me what I consider the happiest moment of my life as a baseball fan. Too bad the following year would be so cruel.
How the Yankees blew a 3-0 lead against the Red Sox is beyond me. I despised David Ortiz, I hated Manny Ramirez and I couldn’t believe how Orlando Cabrera could hit anything in sight. I was 15 years old.
Back to the winning ways
After a few disappointing years, redemption came in 2009. CC Sabathia was a workhorse, Jeter and Hideki Matsui were phenomenal, and the once-hated Johnny Damon contributed his fair share of hits. Alex Rodriguez, at long last, had a great postseason and was one of the keys of the victory, I thought.
As you can see, my Yankees’ fandom has had its lows, but also its highs. I wouldn’t trade being a Yankees follower for anything, though. Hearing Yankee Stadium roar after a walk-off home run or a timely strikeout to end a rally is music to my ears.
It doesn’t matter if I was happy, sad, angry, disappointed or just bored: the Yankees were always there. And they still are, even if we can’t enjoy any games right now. There is always the expectation of seeing today’s generation of young talent in the field after COVID-19 is gone for good.
I want to see Gleyber Torres hit a home run, or Aaron Judge throw out a runner with that cannon arm of his. I miss seeing Aaron Hicks doing wonders in center field, and I sure want to see Gerrit Cole with a Yankees’ uniform. I know I’ll see that marvelous bullpen putting down fires.
I encourage you, the reader, to tell your story in the comments section. How did you became a Yankees’ fan? When did that happen? Which players did you follow? Who were your childhood heroes on the diamond?