Right after last night's Red Sox loss at Tampa Bay, I got to talking to my friend Chris at Professor Thom's. (Chris is a popular name in that bar, and I have at least four friends with that name.) He told me a story about being at a Yankee game the other night that was rather disturbing for what happened between two groups of fans that were sitting near him.
It was during the seventh inning stretch of the Tuesday night game between the Yankees and Blue Jays. Chris told me he was sitting in the upper deck, but eventually moved downstairs and was sitting behind the Blue Jays dugout by the seventh. After the top of the inning, "God Bless America" is always played at Yankee Stadium, with the thoughts of the troops overseas. (I'll never take issue with them doing that or continuing to do it, as it was started by the Yankees in memory of the September 11 victims in 2001.)
On this night, about four Orthodox Jewish men were standing for the song, but they still had their yarmulkes on. Apparently, some Yankee fans took exception with that, and told them to take their yarmulkes off. They thought by them wearing them during the song it was show of disrespect. (But they WERE standing.) They didn't, and it further irritated those fans, and some pushing and shoving took place between the groups of fans. Chris said that none of them appeared drunk or slight bit intoxicated. No one was hurt in the scuffle. My friend was just a short distance away, and heard someone in the group of Yankee fans call the Jewish men, "kike" and "jewboy." Yankee Stadium security then showed up and separated the groups, and exited everyone from both groups off the stadium premises.
You hate hearing stories like this, but what surprised both myself and Chris was that a bigger deal wasn't made out of this incident. We both agreed that this sounded like something that would have been in the New York Post the next day. I can only guess that the Jewish men didn't decide to pursue any legal action against the Yankees for being led out of the park, even though according to my friend Chris, they did nothing to provoke this incident. (Or maybe they have, but didn't go the papers about it.)
This isn't to say that this kind of thing happens at Yankee Stadium all the time, or doesn't happen anywhere else. Most Yankee fans I believe are right thinking people and would deplore such incidents that lead to ugly name calling. This sort of reminds me of the first time I was at Yankee Stadium in 1980 for a Red Sox-Yankees game. A friend and I were sitting in the box seats down the right field line. Just after the start of the game, there was a loud mouth Yankee fan who wouldn't stop giving Reggie Jackson, who was playing right field at the time, verbal abuse. He was shouting "Uncle Tom" at him over and over again. The irony of it was that he was a white guy who was holding a black child in his arms. The Yankee fans around him were telling him to shut up. By the end of the inning, I noticed that Jackson was looking past us and right at the abusive fan. He actually started to walk toward us when the inning ended, but he turned and went back to the dugout. A few moments later, I noticed the fan was gone, and wasn't seen in the area again.
Yankee Stadium has never been my favorite place on earth to hang out in. Incidents like this make me think twice about going there, especially if the Red Sox happen to be in town.
I'd rather be at Professor Thom's anyway.