Growing Up: Yankees or Dodgers Fan?

By William Coppola

Growing up in New York in the 50’s to middle 60’s as a secret Yankee fan, in a Dodger house, that would later become a Mets house, was very confusing to me. My Dad loved the Brooklyn Dodgers and so that was my team as a kid. But as I got a little older, I became fascinated with the Yankees.

They were always winning and seemed to be in the World Series every year. Plus their home was in that enormous stadium where Babe Ruth had played. It looked so much bigger than the Giant’s Polo Grounds or the Dodger’s Ebbets Field. They had Casey Stengel, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Moose Skowron and Mickey Mantle.

They played in the Bronx and were called “The Bronx Bombers.” The Dodgers were “The Bums from Flatbush” and I wanted to be a Bomber, not a Bum. All my uncles were Yankee fans and It was painful to hear them gloat every time they beat the Dodgers. It drove my Dad nuts! What a dilemma for me, as I could never tell my Dad that I liked the Yankees. It would of broken his heart.

I figured I would only be able to see the Yankees on our black and white TV, when my Dad was at work. I was doomed and would never get to see a game in that holy grail of baseball. Then one day, a miracle happened. My Dad said we were going to Yankee Stadium, to see them play the Detroit Tigers. I couldn’t believe it.

 NY Yankees Stadium

I was going to get to see the Bronx Bombers in the House that Ruth built. Then he told me, “Yeah, Detroit has this pitcher Frank Larry who is a Yankee Killer. We’re going to watch them loose”. And they did loose. My Dad took me to see the Yanks play a number of times, but only if Frank Larry was pitching.

Years later on my birthday, he somehow got two tickets to game one of the 1963 World Series. Field level row M behind home plate. I still have the $8.00 ticket stub. Yankees vs Dodgers, Sandy Koufax vs Whitey Ford. Holy smokes what a day. Only problem was that Mr. Koufax was not cooperating with me getting to see the “Bombers” win.

He set a record of 15 strikeouts that day, making my Dad happy as he saw the Yankees loose, but also sad, having to look at his once beloved Dodgers in these strange uniforms, with Los Angeles on the front.

He never got over the loss of the Bums, and like many others from Brooklyn, became a Mets fan, while I hated everything about the Mets back then. They were always losing and played in the Polo Grounds, that old crummy stadium across the river. They wore Dodger blue with Giant’s orange. Plus that Giant’s NY script in orange on their hats, talk about a confused kid!

This was my biggest nightmare. I thought that when both NL teams moved to the left side, my Dad would become a Yankee fan. But no, he would rather have all of his teeth pulled, without any pain killer by my Aunt Stella with the crooked fingers, than be a Yankee fan.

My Dad was a loyal and proud Brooklyn Dodger and Mets fan. When he passed away in 1979, I bought a Yankee hat. I figured he would never see me wearing it. But when I looked at myself in the mirror, something was terribly wrong.

My stomach felt queasy. I couldn’t do it. I could’t wear that hat. I felt like a traitor and disrespectful to my Dad. So today, I am just a baseball fan. I root for no one in particular and am like one of those players in Cooperstown with no team logo on his hat. I guess that makes me a true Bum after all.
William Coppola begins his 41st year in the game of baseball. He has been a coach, instructor and advanced scout and now a contributing writer for The Bronx Chronicle. 
 

 

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