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Emily Popek

April 19, 2014

It isn't spring until baseball season starts

Let me start by saying that I was not raised to be a sports fan. 

My family has nothing against sports, but we were not a people who spectated. 

I grew up in Oregon, a state that boasts only one major league sports franchise: the Portland Trail Blazers. Sure, some Oregonians support the Seattle Mariners, but for the most part, baseball just wasn’t a big deal. 

But when my then-boyfriend (now my husband) and I moved to Oneonta, we joined his family of die-hard Yankees fans, and my education began. 

We moved out here at the end of the summer of 2001, traveling in separate cars to lug all our stuff. I was a few days behind him, so it was on a television set in the lobby of a Missoula, Mont., motel that I watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center. I arrived in upstate New York five days later, shortly before the Yankees returned to the field after the suspension of play.

As we began recovering from the shock of the 9/11 attacks, as we looked for apartments and jobs and furniture and tried to start building our new life, the constant throughout it all was the Yankees. And in the post-9/11 context, the games — with Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the front row every night, with the players wearing “FDNY” caps — seemed to take on a deep significance. Without realizing it, I found myself becoming a baseball fan. 

During the 2000 World Series, the boyfriend had suffered mightily in Portland, a city inexplicably full of Yankee-haters, as so many are. We missed watching the Yankees beat the Mets to close out the Subway Series because I insisted on going to a pre-season Blazers game. (I still feel guilty about that one.)

But in 2001, back in New York, we weren’t going to miss a trick. Lacking cable at our new apartment, we reported to his parents’ house each night, ready to weather the storm. And what a storm it was. 

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Emily Popek
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