Gayla Cawley: In enemy territory

It’s not always easy being a New York Yankees fan while living so close to Boston.

I grew up first in Danbury, Conn., and then later moved to a town a few miles away, which are both just an hour outside New York City. So, naturally, becoming a Yankees fan was inevitable.

Since I made the decision to move three hours away for this job a couple of years ago, I’ve been surrounded by Red Sox fans, especially in the newsroom. As someone who likes to stir the pot a little bit sometimes, I decided to bring my “Reserved Parking, Yankees fans only” sign and proudly hang it up at my desk.

Some of my co-workers didn’t approve. I would come back to my desk and find the sign turned over on numerous occasions, hiding the interlocking NY symbol.

One of the first things I did right after moving in was go to my first game at Fenway Park, which happened to be part of a series between the two rivals. It definitely felt like enemy territory.

For the most part, I don’t blame people around here for deciding to become Red Sox fans, as much as I disagree with their decision. Where someone grows up basically seems to determine which baseball team they become a fan of.

Take Connecticut for example, where there’s a strange split that happens in the state to separate New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox fans. In the past, the divide has been referred to as a Mason-Dixon line, which hearkens back to the symbolic border that separated the Northern and Southern states during the Civil War.

In Connecticut, it’s almost a 50/50 split, with half the state choosing to align with the Yankees and the other half making the misguided decision to become Red Sox fans.

The line seems to be around the central part of the state, with the western half of the state closest to New York City typically rooting for the Yankees and the eastern side of the state closer to Boston choosing the Red Sox.

This phenomenon has been reported elsewhere, but it’s obvious to anyone who lives in the state. I experienced it for myself in college, when I went from the western half of the state to the eastern part to attend the University of Connecticut and found myself in Red Sox territory.

Brutally, the Red Sox won the World Series in my freshman year, and my whole dorm floor was celebrating, while I was just sitting there ruminating.

One of my first memories at the old Yankee Stadium was during batting practice as a kid  in the late 1990s. Luis Sojo, a former utility infielder for the Yankees, was joking around and repeatedly tossing Derek Jeter’s glove up in the air when they were both in the outfield.


As each toss got higher and higher in the air, my mom timed one and leaned over the fence and caught Jeter’s glove, much to their surprise. As it was his game glove that he was going to use, Jeter needed it back and compromised by having a security guard give his batting gloves to my younger brother after the game.

A sadder memory was during the playoffs in the new Yankee Stadium in 2012 when Jeter went down with a broken ankle, a horrific injury — he was never the same after. I remember sitting in the stands and the whole crowd went quiet after he went down awkwardly at shortstop and didn’t get back up. Everyone knew something was really wrong.

Growing up, I always thought how bizarre it would be to end up in Boston. But here I am, just a few miles away, and now an outlier Yankees fan in Red Sox territory.

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