Friday, April 07, 2006

"Rooting For Boston"

In this week's edition of Crain's Business New York, there is a featured article about Red Sox fans called "Rooting For Boston". It's about Red Sox fans who root for The Olde Towne Team in the Big Apple. I had the pleasure of being interviewed for it, and I appear about midway through the article. The best part of the article is when my buddy and favorite bartender Jim McGuire was interviewed. It's interesting reading, and I hope you all enjoy it.

My media empire continues to grow!


Damon incites Bosox fans on Yankee turf

By Aaron Elstein Published on April 03, 2006

In Meryl Pearlstein's household, one particular subject just isn't discussed: how the Boston Red Sox pulled off the greatest comeback in the history of sports and defeated the New York Yankees to win the 2004 American League pennant.

Ms. Pearlstein, a Boston-area native who has lived in New York since 1979 and remains a fanatical Sox follower, still hasn't found a way to talk about the series with her sons, ages 11 and 15, who are serious Yankee buffs.

"For years, my kids gloated when the Red Sox invariably collapsed, but after the Yankees fell apart, they were really angry," says Ms. Pearlstein, who plans to renew her marriage vows with her husband, a Yankee fan, at Boston's Fenway Park next year. "To this day, we haven't really talked about what happened."

Plenty of New Yorkers would be happy to chat with her. Though no scientific data exist, anecdotal evidence suggests that New York is home to more Red Sox fans than anywhere else outside New England.

Thousands of supporters are always in attendance when their team makes its three annual visits to Yankee Stadium. More than half a dozen bars here cater specifically to Red Sox fans. The Benevolent and Loyal Order of Honorable and Ancient Red Sox Diehard Sufferers of New York (the Blohards) sports a mailing list of 800.

"It is a vast diaspora," says Julie Powers Killian, a Rye, N.Y., resident whose father founded the Blohards on the train home after a Red Sox-Yankees game in 1967--a year in which the Red Sox won the pennant while the Yankees finished ninth in a 10-team league. "Since Boston beat the Yankees in '04, you certainly see more people around here wearing Red Sox shirts and caps."

In the clutch of the Green Monster
Most fans here are New England natives who wouldn't change their allegiance any sooner than a rabbi would trade religions. They're aghast that center fielder Johnny Damon defected to the enemy when the Bronx Bombers offered him $3 million a year more than the Red Sox did. They expect emotions in the stands to run even higher this year.

But a stunningly large number of these newly minted Damon-despisers--perhaps a few hundred--are lifelong New Yorkers who have long put their faith in the team where Mr. Damon had his best years.

Local Boston fans include Brooklyn-born-and-bred John Brian Quinn, who was raised in a Yankee-hating family and rooted for the Mets as a youth. But he grew disillusioned when Tom Seaver was traded, and he switched to the Red Sox in 1977 at age 15--just in time for the epic collapse of 1978. That's when, as any baseball fan knows, Boston blew a massive midseason lead and lost a one-game playoff as scrawny Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent hit an infamous home run.

"The long history of the Red Sox captivated me," says Mr. Quinn, who writes a blog called "Brooklyn Sox Fan" and is working on a memoir tentatively titled "A Convert to the Cause." "They're more than my team; they're my passion."

As any true believer would, Mr. Quinn seeks the company of like-minded people, and there's no shortage of places to find them, even in New York. Scattered throughout Manhattan are bars that have booted out Yankee aficionados in order to serve Boston backers.

The phenomenon was jump-started by Jim McGuire, a Newark native who grew up rooting for the Cincinnati Reds. He was tending bar in the late 1990s at the Riviera Cafe & Sports Bar in the West Village when a handful of fans asked him to switch the TV channel to the Red Sox game. He agreed, and word quickly got around. Soon hundreds of exiled fans were packing the place, which attracted national media attention when the Red Sox won the World Series.

But when Mr. McGuire hung a banner proclaiming the Red Sox the world champions, his boss, a Yankee supporter, flung it in the garbage. A person familiar with the situation says that Mr. McGuire was dismissed because of that incident and because he hosted a post-World Series party for loyal customers without permission. Riviera manager Steve Sertell says his bar still welcomes Boston fans.

Last December, Mr. McGuire opened an East Village bar called Professor Thom's, which he hopes will become the preferred refuge of Red Sox boosters this season.
"My brother is a Yankee fan and is always telling my mother, `I can't believe he runs a Red Sox bar,' " he says. "But it's good business."

While Boston boosters can find solidarity at watering holes, they often must fend for themselves at the office. Abby Pinard, a vice president at a Westchester County software company, says that when Boston and New York are playing each other, she can seldom start a meeting without someone in the room making disparaging remarks about her beloved team. Employees get away with it because the chief executive is an unabashed Yankee fan.

Designated kidder
"I take a lot of abuse," says Ms. Pinard, a Brooklyn native who grew up rooting for the Dodgers but embraced the Red Sox when she got married to a Boston fan. "I've learned how to give it back, though."
For example, when the Yankees lost the 2003 World Series, after having beaten the Red Sox in a memorable playoff, she wrote a poem for her CEO in the style of the classic "Casey at the Bat."
It concluded: "And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout/That joy must be in Boston--for the Bombers have bombed out."


Jere said...

Congrats on getting in the article.

I'm confused. I thought Jim was the one who opened Phebe's, and Prof Thom's was a new place run by someone else.

I also have to say that I'm not happy about the Blohards dude saying that there's a lot more Sox hats "since 2004." That's a myth I don't want perpetuated. There were so many here, and around the country BEFORE 2004.

We could call it a "McCarver McMyth," actually.

The Omnipotent Q said...

Jere: Jim moved over to Phebe's for about six months after he was let go from the Riviera. Phebe's is run by a couple of Sox fans, both good guys.

The Omnipotent Q said...

Phebe's has been on Bowery and 4th for many years; Professor Thom's just opened this past December, and Jim is a part-owner.

WelshSoxFan said...

... that's what she said

Michael Leggett said...

& Normie The Owner of The Riv is a yankees fan:
As one Mets Fan Priest of The Brooklyn Diocese once said in the 2000 WS, "We Will Pray For his immortal soul."

Wait'll the gang in Boston finds out!

Michael Leggett said...

Red Sox hats have been a NYC fixture for a long time. Shea Stadium is loaded with fans wearing Red Sox Caps.

Michael Leggett said...

I just wrote about a Part Time Red Sox Broadcaster of the '60s', '70s' & '80s'.

Let's just say that I miss his "Happy Recaps", these days.

Michael Leggett said...

Mc Carver, on Baltimore Red Sox on FOX, did call us "Bandwagon" Fans;

Must be his "NO" Network Audition.