When my parents got married, my mother decided to embrace my father’s obsession with the Yankees, instead of trying to fight it. So, for 33 years (and counting), Yankees baseball has been a major part of my parents’ marriage. It’s been a positive influence on their relationship: they celebrate wins together, and they bond over the sadness of losses.
While it was normal to grow up having a father who is obsessed with baseball, having a mother who is just as fanatic about it was a rarity. My friends were always jealous of me for having such a cool mom, and I held my head high whenever my mom showed her Pinstripe Pride. While my father taught me the technical side of baseball and Yankees history, it was my mother who truly nurtured my love for the sport. She was the one who showed me the beauty in being a baseball fan. It was my mother who turned baseball into a time for us all to bond. She was the one who made winning more exciting, and losing more bearable. I was born in the mid-80s, so I’ve seen my fair share of losses. My mother would comfort me after these losses because, to a child, every loss seems like the end of the world.
I’m so grateful to my mother for turning me into the Yankees fan that I am today. She is the one who instilled the love of baseball in me. It all started in the few days before my birth.
I was born on April 16th, 1984. It was a Monday, and a Yankees off-day. My parents joke around saying that I schedule my life around Yankees baseball so much, that I even scheduled being born on an off-day, so that I wouldn’t miss a game. My mother was 2 weeks overdue, as she delivered me after completing her 42nd week of pregnancy. *42 weeks… Does the number ’42’ remind you of anyone?*
On the Friday before I was born, the Chicago White Sox were in town to face the Yankees. My mother, nearly two weeks overdue, insisted on going to the Yankees game. My father had season tickets that year, but he was going to sell that game’s tickets to a friend because he didn’t want to leave my mother. Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that a pregnant woman, who may have gone into labor at any minute, would want to go to a baseball game. My mother insisted on going, and my father gladly obliged.
So, on April 13th, 1984, with my mother very much pregnant with me, my parents went to Yankee Stadium. They watched the game, cheered along, and the Yankees were losing. Bottom of the 6th inning, Don Mattingly was at the plate, facing the White Sox pitcher Floyd Bannister. He hit a foul ball into the crowd, and it was flying towards my parents. My father stood up to catch the ball (he says he was trying to shield my mother from it; my mom and I think he just wanted to catch a Mattingly foul ball), and it bounced off my dad’s arm and landed on my mother’s stomach. Basically, it landed on me. Probably on my head, which would explain a few things.
My mom immediately put her hands over the ball and caught it. She stood up, held the ball in the air and shouted “I just caught my first Yankees foul ball!” and the entire section applauded her. According to my dad, the crowd was amazed by the sight of a very pregnant woman excited about catching a baseball. When my mother sat back down, she rubbed her tummy and said “This ball is for you, my little angel”. I still have the ball and, in 1993, I got the ball autographed by Don Mattingly during batting practice at Yankee Stadium. I told him that it was a foul ball he hit that landed on my mom’s stomach while she was pregnant with me, and he said “You’re lucky to have a great mom”. I know, Donnie, I am.
The Yankees ended up losing that game on April 13th 5-3, but my mom says that it was the best game she’d ever been to. The next day, my mother started to feel contractions, and my dad rushed her to the hospital. She wasn’t in labor yet, but the doctors insisted that she spent the night.
On April 15th, 1984, the White Sox were at Yankee Stadium again. This time, my mother couldn’t go to the stadium, as her contractions were getting closer and stronger. She refused to miss the game, so she watched it on TV with my dad. Ron Guidry was on the mound for the Yankees that day, and he gave up 1 run over 8 innings of work. The game was tied 1-1 and it went into extra innings.
Bottom of the 10th, with 2 outs, Ken Griffey hit a walk-off RBI single on which Toby Harrah scored, winning the game for the Yankees. Nearly an hour after that walk-off hit, my mother went into labor. She was in labor until the early morning. At 3:42am on April 16th, 1984, I was born. As soon as they cleaned me off, my mother wrapped me in a Yankees blanket, and held me close to her heart for hours. I began my life, in mother’s arms, wearing the Yankees insignia. Thanks to my mom, nearly 26 years later, I still wear the beautiful interlocking ‘NY’ close to my heart.
I love hearing the story of my birth, because it revolves around Yankees baseball. What I love even more about it, however, is that it shows my mom’s obsession with the Yankees. I truly am lucky to have a mother as amazing as her. Her baseball obsession in only one of the many things I love about my mom. She’s the one who nurtured my love of Yankees baseball, and the one who taught me that there’s nothing wrong with a girl being in love with a “boys’ sport”.
Everything that I am today, and every part of my Yankees obsession, I owe to my amazing mother.
Happy Mother’s Day to my Yankee Mommy – a woman I love and thank the Lord for, every day.