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.
Researching, 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 sports history.
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.
Said Don Zimmer, “I didn’t even know there was a big rivalry……