Printed on July 16, 2019

We cheer for our adopted baseball team – and the Yankees

By B.A. Belthoff / The Bulletin

Winning isn’t everything, but it sure is fun.

No matter where you live, you can always find loyal sports fans supporting their teams. That’s how it should be. Moving to Texas meant having to adopt new teams to cheer on.

It’s not really a big deal, as we’ve supported our new home team wherever we’ve lived: Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and so on. It’s kind of the rule.

Baseball’s long history has made it America’s game. I’m reading a fascinating book on the history of baseball, which focuses on the 1800s, and how a German immigrant named Chris Von der Ahe helped to transform and save the game.

Many of the elements of the game we watch today came about because of Von der Ahe and the American Association, which was not quite the same entity as today’s American League. Things like Sunday baseball, grounds rule double, and even enjoying a beer while watching the game, all came about because of Von der Ahe’s vision.

If you are interested, the book is titled “The Summer of Beer and Whiskey” by Edward Achorn. I recommend it for all baseball fanatics out there.

When the Yankees come to town to play the Astros, we always get tickets to the game. My husband loves baseball and is a die-hard Yankee fan. I sometimes explain it by saying he bleeds Yankee blue. You get the picture.

When the home team – and the other home team – are playing, we trade in our orange and blue and wear our pinstripes to support the Yankees.

I’m just so grateful we never lived in Massachusetts because there is an exception to rooting for other teams, and that’s the Boston Red Sox! Alan will root for ANY team as long as they’re not the dreaded Red Sox, period.

Alan still recounts the first time he went to Yankee stadium with his dad and brothers. We still display the foul ball he caught in 1988 from the game against the Chicago White Sox.

My daughters and I gave him the ultimate birthday present a few years back. We sent him to Florida to attend Yankee Fantasy Camp. As the name implies. it is just as you may be thinking.

Grown men get together to play ball and pretend they’re on a professional baseball team – with all the perks and pampering, such as massages and ice baths. It’s a charity event that lasts a week and culminates with ‘the big game’, when the regular guys play a game against retired players. The regular guys get their rears kicked as a reminder that they really aren’t professional players!

The many action photos of him playing with some of the team’s greats and dressed in authentic Yankee gear still hang in our family room. My favorite is the one of our daughters holding a painted sign for the final game that read: We love our Yankee Dad.

I’m pretty sure the real Yankee players thought it was pretty cool, too. The team photographer captured a photo of former infielder Pat Kelly standing behind Alan with his hands on his shoulders while coaching him on first base. When at bat, I referred to him as a rookie. That was a big hit with one of the Fantasy Coaches, former Yankee second baseman Homer Bush.

The last time we were at a Yankees’ game was when they came to H-town for a three-game series back in April. We attended the first game, but the Yankees lost . . . and the next two.

We won’t be putting away our pinstripes just yet, because there’s still a lot of ball to play. We still remain faithful fans.

There isn’t too much that’s different between seeing a game here or in New York. Feeling the energy of the stadium when your team is coming from behind and turning things around in the bottom of the ninth inning is hair-raising.

Minute Maid Park is a much more intimate place than the new stadium in New York. Astro fans are great, and it’s fun getting to know everyone seated around you. Maybe it’s because we’ll talk to anyone – sharing memories of games past or arguing about the umpire’s call. With a love of baseball as the binder, there is a comradery that forms between strangers enjoying the game from the stands.

Whoever winds up representing the American League in the world series this October, one thing is for certain, it’s going to be a fun season.

The late Paul Blair, one of the coaches at Fantasy Camp, said it best when he would ask, “How do we spell fun? W I N!

(New-ish Texas resident B.A. Belthoff welcomes your comments. You can reach her at babelthoff@gmail.com.)