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Why a true New Yorker dons a Boston Red Sox cap

By William J. Dean / August 20, 2003



Since grade school, I have worn a cap or hat. This summer I purchased an elegant Italian borsalino straw hat. For less formal occasions, I wear a baseball cap. Two weeks ago I lost the cap.

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This development presented me with a dilemma. For years, I have worn a Boston Red Sox cap, even though I am a New Yorker to the marrow. The fact is, I take little interest in baseball and don't root for a team. I wear a Red Sox cap because of its beautiful "B." In my mind, the "B" is for Bill, my first name.

I go to a sports store to select a new cap. I try on a Boston, a Yankee, and a vintage Brooklyn Dodgers cap. The last one also features a "B." Wearing a Dodgers cap might make more sense, since Brooklyn is part of New York City.

None of the caps fit. I have a large head and need a 7-7/8 size. The choice comes down to the Red Sox or Yankees, both one size too small. (The Dodgers cap is even smaller.) Whether it fits or not, I am determined to leave the store with a baseball cap.

I ponder, trying each cap several times. Favoring the Yankees are my close ties to the city. But the Yankees win a lot. I identify with the underdog, and in this department the Red Soxs excel, having not won a World Series since 1918.

Also, if I wear a Yankee cap, no one will talk to me on the street. New Yorkers are expected to be Yankee fans. Wearing a Boston cap elicits a host of interesting observations from passersby. I relish these verbal exchanges.

And so I walk out of the store into a Herald Square crowd wearing my new Boston Red Sox cap. I have made the right choice. The comments start coming. I remind one passerby that Boston is a part of the United States.

Wearing my new cap, I am on my way by bicycle to Lincoln Center for an evening performance by the Kirov Opera of Tchaikovsky's, Eugene Onegin.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Central Park. As part of the celebration, a game is being played on grass under 1864 baseball rules. I stop to watch.

A "striker" (batter) hits the ball to the outfield. A "scout" (outfielder) runs for the ball. He fails to catch it on the fly, but does so after one bounce. The striker is out under the rules.

Ah, memories of school days as an outfielder. My fear was being hit by the ball, so I seldom caught anything. I would have done better as a scout, catching the ball after the first bounce.

I raise my Boston Red Sox cap in tribute to Central Park and proceed by bicycle to the opera house.

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