Each series with the Yankees is now an Armageddon of the forces of good versus evil. But in my baseball youth, the Red Sox were just a minor stop on the schedule.
The Boston and New York rivalry goes back centuries and you can most certainly toss Philadelphia into the mix. Politics, economics, education and being the dominant force in a new nation. Naturally, that migrated into sports with the most notable being the Boston Red Sox versus the New York Yankees.
The Yankee dynasty received a kick-start when Babe Ruth and a plethora of star players eventually were sold or traded to the Yankees. New York never looked back and racked up championship after championship. As the saying in the early 1950s was that rooting for the Yankees was like rooting for General Motors.
My baseball formative years centered around the Yankees. Year after year the one consistency in baseball was a Yankee team surfacing in the World Series and everyone – especially the Red Sox – were on the outside looking in. I hated that. They were arrogant, entitled, and the best of the best – at least that was my opinion.
The Yankees of the 1950s and going up to 1964 could care less about the Red Sox since we were another stop on the schedule. Boston had little in the way of talent to challenge the Yankees. This feeling was universal in baseball and best demonstrated by the Broadway musical “Damn Yankees” which I was fortunate enough to see.
Embedded into my burgeoning ‘hate” was a world of respect and admiration. Mickey Mantle, Hank Bauer, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford were among my favorites, But Bobby Richardson was the one I really had a fondness to see play. Smooth afield and nimble with the bat.
The highlight of my Yankees – Red Sox “battles” happened in 1959 when the Yankees were being challenged after another run of four straight World Series appearances. This time it was the Chicago White Sox and Boston certainly gave the other Sox a boost. The Yankees came to Boston for a five-game series and were swept by the Red Sox. Chicago took the pennant, but New York came back and won five straight pennants.
When CBS took control of the Yankees they really hit the skids until George Steinbrenner took over. In the 1970s the Red Sox and Yankees heated up their personal duel and have maintained it since. But each year the Red Sox found a new and exotic way to lose.
The cleansing came in 2004 and no one needs to describe the jubilation of coming back down 0-3. The ultimate trashing of the baseball bully by the most humiliating of defeats in baseball history. Maybe decades of pain were worth it?
This is a new Yankee team and a young and talented group. The Yankees Brian Cashman has certainly out snookered Dave Dombrowski in building a team. My cap is tipped to them. I may “hate” the new collection, but I have a world of respect for them.