By Christine Paluf
Vernon, Conn. – Aug. 3, 2006 — There are many factors that go into the development of a baseball fan. How one chooses the team to which they will be devoted involves many things. But when you live in Connecticut, this decision is a complicated one.
The problem for many is the choice, at first, isn’t an obvious one. A state without its own major league team, Connecticut is bordered to the north and to the west by two teams that have been traditionally some of the most rivalrous: The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. The fans of these teams are among the most devoted anywhere.
A child growing up in this state has very little time to form his own opinion before some external force influences them one way or the other. But a clear decision must be made at some point, because there is simply no sitting on the fence in Connecticut.
The “nature” side of the coin can be tied to simple geography.
“The Connecticut River is the dividing line, you’ve got your western Yankees fans, and Red Sox fans to the east,” says Connecitcut native and Red Sox devotee, Steve Kobelski.
However there are others that believe the division is north/south, with Hartford as the line, creating the ‘northies’ versus the ‘southies.’
“I’d marry Derek Jeter today if he asked,” said Yankees supporter Anna Sirignano. “My grandfather was a Yankees fan, and he was from Waterbury [in the south-west part of the state] and then my father. … Now my daughter’s a Derek Jeter fan.”
“Nurture” does play a huge part in team allegiance. At least early on, most children acquire their preference from their parents, as is often seen in the political arena. Whatever team your dad, grandpa, etc. is watching, when he’s your hero, you’re going to be right along his side, rooting for the same.
“My father was a die-hard Yankees fan. We watched all the games growing up,” said Glastonbury resident and New York fan Bill Laurinaitis. “I didn’t really get into it on my own accord. When you’re a kid, you’ll generally believe it when your father says the Red Sox suck.”
But in Connecticut, as in other states, there are sometimes ‘mixed marriages’ where one parent favors the opposing team. Believe it or not, Yankees fans do sometimes pair up with Sox fans. It’s rare, but it has happened.
In this case, children can often choose to align with their favorite parent. Many put major efforts into creating a fan base within their children, vying for support by taking them to games and showering them with memorabilia.
This is where the “nature” influences can step back into the equation. First of all, whichever stadium you live closer to may win. But many parents choose to take their children to Fenway over Yankee Stadium for other reasons.
“For dads taking their kids to a park, the intimacy of Fenway is great,” said Red Sox fan Tom Modelesky. “Going to Fenway versus the Bronx, walking through the streets … I mean it’s better today than it was, but Boston’s more of a family city.”
And then there’s always the off chance that you just liked red better than blue, or as a kid you liked socks better than pin-stripes. But in those cases, you are most likely a female.
Location and family preference may influence what types of games kids will see as they grow. But when they become teenagers and older, those living near Hartford, stuck right in the center, are in a constant state of conflict.
“At the Meadows [Music Theater], I’ve seen legions of drunk Yankees and Red Sox fans battle it out at Dave Matthews Band concerts,” Modelesky said. “Hartford’s the line.”
Either way you choose, as a resident in Connecticut, it’s best to watch who you share it with.