Friday, April 27, 2018

What it Means to Be a Yankees Fan: Scott Fiedler

In my very humble opinion the best writer that The Greedy Pinstripes has is Scott Fiedler. There is no disrespect intended towards the rest of our wonderful writers, you guys are all amazing and all truly appreciated, but I have just been drawn to Scott’s work since day one and I truly think we are all blessed and incredibly lucky to have him on the site. When I came up with the idea to do this running series about what it means to be a Yankees fan I knew I wanted to include him. I knew Scott, and others of course, would just be able to paint a picture with their words while describing their Yankees fandom, and he did not let me down. Here is his story, and here is his fandom. Enjoy.

What makes you a fan of the New York Yankees?

One of the very first books I read as a child was a biography about Lou Gehrig. It set the stage for my interest and passion about the history and tradition of Major League Baseball.  I grew up in the Midwest but was not a fan of the Cardinals, Cubs or Twins (the most common favorites among my friends). At the time of my early youth, the Oakland A’s were winning multiple World Series with a colorful owner and a cast of characters which drew my attention.  My favorite player was the A’s great starting pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter. During this same time period, I had been reading other baseball biographies including books about Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth.  Despite reading about other players, the books about Yankees legends appealed to me the most. The most storied franchise, the history of success, my deep and longstanding appreciation for Lou Gehrig…whatever the cause…it left me respectful of the Pinstripes even though “my team”, at the time, was the Oakland Athletics. 

It all changed on December 31, 1974. That’s the day Catfish Hunter left the A’s in free agency and signed with the New York Yankees. Thank you, George Steinbrenner. The combination of my favorite player joining a team I had deep appreciation for made for an easy and immediate choice to switch my allegiance to the Yankees. 

I’ve never looked back. 

What is your earliest memory of the New York Yankees?

While I remember the 1975 Yankees and Manager Bill Virdon, the first memorable season was the next year with Billy Martin at the helm and a new young second baseman named Willie Randolph whom the Yankees had acquired in the off-season from the Pittsburgh Pirates. By this time, Thurman Munson had become my favorite player and the Yankees won the AL East by 10 ½ games over the Baltimore Orioles. I thought at the time the O’s were the Yankees biggest rival. Silly me.

I can still recall so vividly when Carroll Christopher Chambliss stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the ninth inning during Game 5 of the 1976 ALCS with Royals closer Mark Littell, one of the game’s best, on the mound and the game tied at 6. There was something about the way Chambliss placed his back foot that I immediately became convinced he was going to hit a game-winning, series-clinching home run. I don’t think I’ve ever felt the euphoria like I did when Chambliss connected on the dramatic home run like I had expected and watched, with tremendous excitement, as the crowd at Yankee Stadium flooded the field. There have been great Yankees moments in the course of my lifetime but that one remained the most special because it was truly the first huge moment of my Yankees fandom.

The Yankees subsequently lost the World Series when they were swept by the Big Red Machine, but the 1976 Yankees were a young and exciting team. Thurman Munson was a joy to watch in the World Series as he batted .529 (9-for-17), solidifying his place as my favorite Yankee.

What is your fondest memory of the New York Yankees?

Obviously, the Chambliss home run in the 1976 ALCS rates very high but since I’ve already touched on that moment, the fondest will go to the three home runs by Reggie Jackson in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. A total of three combined pitches by three different pitchers and Reggie took them all deep. My mother (now deceased) was in another room watching something else on TV and I would run to her with each home run…so excited to tell her that Reggie had knocked another one out of the park. I am sure my mom could not have cared less about the Yankees, yet I remember how interested she seemed with each home run update. It was important to her because it was important to me.

It was a magical moment in Yankees history and certainly one that I will never forget. 

What do you think of when you see the interlocking NY of the Yankees?

Because the foundation of my Yankees fandom was created when I discovered Lou Gehrig through books which developed a deep sense of pride, the interlocking NY carries the history and tradition of baseball’s greatest franchise for me. It is a symbol of greatness, triumph and unity of the many excellent (and not-so-excellent) players that have worn the Pinstripes. I’ve always felt the Yankees have the very best cap insignia in Major League Baseball. Nothing else comes close.

I am proud to be a Yankees fan.   

Thank you, Scott. You are truly appreciated. I really enjoyed reading this, and I hope everyone else did too.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)