Yankees fan’s abhorrent behavior is nothing new

We tend to think of unruly fans being a modern invention. You look at old-time sports pictures and it sometimes seems they had similar dress codes to parochial school — everyone wearing jackets and ties, looking perfectly civilized in their Sunday best.

So when we look at an ugly moment like what transpired Saturday night, whatever the details — ugly enough that Alex Cora pulled the Red Sox off the field after a baseball was thrown in the direction of left fielder Alex Verdugo — our first reaction is to wring our hands and wonder when things got so out of hand.

Of course, we know better.

Of course, we have seen what has happened to Red Sox fans who’ve thought it a wise idea to wear Boston paraphernalia to Yankee Stadium through the years. And lest we think this is inherent to our big, bad apple: ask Yankees fans how well they’ve been treated through the years while proudly wearing an interlocking “NY” on their person somewhere in or around the Fenway Park property.

(True story: a friend went to Fenway a few years ago and instructed his sons — 15 and 17 at the time — to wear neutral outfits. But the oldest son had snuck a Yankees cap into the park in his jacket pocket. It slipped out when he took a bathroom break. And, quite literally, six Red Sox fans promptly stomped the hell out of that cap. My friend’s son was smart enough to have walked away but watched this all from a bemused distance. “You weren’t kidding,” he told his old man when he got back to their seats.)

Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo (second from left) reacts after a fan threw a ball at him Saturday.
Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo (second from left) reacts after a fan threw a ball at him Saturday.
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Heck, New York once hosted the fiercest rivalry of all when the Giants and Dodgers both called the boroughs home. On the evening of July 12, 1938, a Giants fan named Frank Krug walked into a saloon on the corner of Ninth Street and Seventh Avenue in Brooklyn called Pat Diamond’s Bar & Grill. There he encountered a Dodgers fan named Robert Joyce.

The Dodgers had beaten the Giants that day, 13-5, and soon the men engaged in a little Depression-era trash talk. It escalated. Joyce left the bar, agitated. He returned carrying two guns. With one he shot the bartender in the stomach. With the other he shot Krug in the head. When cops caught him not long after Joyce explained, “Posedal is a fine pitcher!”

Bill Posedel had been the winning pitcher for the Dodgers that day.

Fan — short for fanatic. Never forget that.

Thirty-one years later, the Mets were playing the most important game in their history. It was July 8, 1969, and the second-place Mets were hosting the first-place Cubs. The Cubs led behind Fergie Jenkins entering the ninth but the Mets launched a rally that would culminate in a game-winning hit by Ed Kranepool. The next night Tom Seaver would throw his Imperfect Game and the rest of the story you know.

But during that ninth-inning rally, at exactly 4 p.m., a 56-year-old housewife named Margaret Graddock had walked into her living room in Queens and changed the TV channel from the Mets game on Channel 9 to an episode of “Dark Shadows” on Channel 7. Her husband, Frank, 66, took exception to this with his fists. Margaret staggered off to bed. A few hours later, Frank discovered his wife wasn’t breathing. She was taken to the morgue, he to the Queens House of Detention.

Fan. Short for fanatic. Never forget that.

So Saturday wasn’t the first example of abhorrent fan behavior, and credit the Yankees: They banned the fan who threw the ball for life, and issued a statement:

“While the Yankees appreciate the spirit and passion of our fans in our various rivalries — especially with the Red Sox — reckless, disorderly and dangerous behavior that puts the safety of players, field staff or fellow fans in jeopardy will not be tolerated. There is absolutely no place for it at Yankee Stadium.

“The safety of everyone at Yankee Stadium, including guests in the stands and players on the field, will always be the top priority for the Yankees organization every time we open our doors.“

Fan. Short for fanatic. Never forget that.


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