A couple of weeks ago, as St. Paddy’s Day was approaching, New York Yankees fans had been counting down the days to the start of another baseball season, and the holiday known as “Opening Day,” and suddenly everything came to an abrupt stop!
Having been a Yankees fan since my birth in 1961, I have grown to expect a few pennants and a couple of championships every decade, having reveled through 16 American League Pennants and 9 World Championships (okay, the first few championships may have been celebrated with a bottle of formula). But certainly not the same level of domination as my Yankee fan mother experienced over her 88 years, a staggeringly impressive 35 American League pennants and 24 World Championships.
Throughout my lifetime, my mother and I have bonded over so many great Yankee memories. We both shared celebrations over exciting victories but also some truly heartbreaking losses. The Yankee revelry made all the sweeter because the Geraghty family was a house divided. My dad was a Brooklyn Dodger fan who adopted the Mets as “his team” slowly over the course of the 1960s. All of us agreed on one thing, the name Walter O’Malley was dirt in our house. How could he do that to Brooklyn!
But my dad’s hatred of the Yankees only made it more fun to talk trash. My dad was a trash-talker before the term ever existed. I think it's in your blood if you were raised in Brooklyn. My older brother Pat was the loyal son, following in his dad’s footsteps and becoming a huge Mets fan just in time for the “Miracle Mets” of 1969 with Tommy Agee, Cleon Jones, and Tom Seaver. I had to rock the boat and follow my mother’s team, the last place New York Yankees of Horace Clark, Gene Michael, and Roy White. The memories over the decades that followed will always be treasured in my heart and mind. Arguments over Reggie being an overpaid show boat vs. Mr. October to Derek Jeter being an all-time Yankee great vs. just a “singles hitter,” and on and on. But my mom and I always embraced the high expectations of being a Yankees fan. Every year you were supposed to win it all or at least be in the running. The Dodger and later Mets fans always had the mantra of “wait ‘till next year.”
So, as the last decade came to a close with that stunningly heartbreaking loss to the Houston Astros, after clawing all the way back in game six only to have it end in a blink of an eye in the bottom of the ninth inning. The brutally long off-season only made more difficult when we learned that the teams that eliminated this exciting young Yankees team the last three seasons had been found guilty of cheating. And not just individual players using steroids but team-wide systemic sign stealing scandals. These cheaters had denied these young Yankee teams from winning at least one American League Pennant in the past decade for the first time since the arrival of the “The Babe” in 1920. So, Yankee fans from all over the world wanted to bring on opening day. Nothing is going to stop the Yankees this year, or so we thought.
And now, with all the time in the world on our hands to watch baseball, we are left with no sports as a diversion. And that may seem small and insignificant and I know that it is compared to the great challenge that we face as a nation and as one united world against a common enemy called COVID-19. But when I look back on my life and my relationship with my parents, now both in their late 80s, all that celebrating and cheering with my mom and all those arguments and trash-talking with my dad and older brother, are some of my most precious memories and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. I miss my diversion.