Dating The Enemy: A Baseball Love Story

Hi. I’m Jillian Bevacqua, and I’m dating a Red Sox fan.

Cue chorus: Hi Jilliannnn.

There is a support group for people like me, right? People who find love in ironic circumstances?

Let me explain. I’m a Yankee fan.

I’m not just any Yankee fan. I’m a born-and-raised Jersey Girl who grew up surrounded by Mickey Mantle autographs and blue and white pinstripes. My family’s basement is decorated solely with signed baseballs and old Yankee photographs. My father shows his ticket stub from opening day 2009 at the new Yankee Stadium to anyone who comes within ten yards of our property line. I was lucky enough to interview Mark Teixeira for New York Magazine and have the article framed in my bedroom. I’m a devoted fan, through and through.

And my boyfriend is a Red Sox fan.

He’s not just any Red Sox fan, either. He’s a third-generation die-hard fan who bought the MLB TV package for 24-7 info about his “boys.” He rocks a Boston cap that’s so worn in that the once-blue fabric has turned a dull grey. He knows the names of more Red Sox players than the amount of money I’ve spent on Yankee tickets. He owns (and wears) that “I support two teams: the Red Sox and whoever beats the Yankees” t-shirt. When I stay at his apartment, I sleep under a giant framed portrait of Fenway Park. He’s a die-hard fan, through and through.

Sometimes, I think about our future. He says he’d love to name a dog Fenway; I realize we’d have to have a second dog so I could name it Bronx. If we had a kid, his parents would buy our baby a Boston jumper, mine would buy a Yankee bib.  Multiple personality disorder would ensue. We’d be like the parents in that new “Back to Football” commercial where the father begs the Giant’s quarterback for touchdowns against the Cowboys while the mother eggs on Dallas linebacker. “He’s my only son,” the dad implores. “Otherwise, he’ll be a Cowboys fan.”

Like any good relationship, however, ours has compromise. When he wants to spend the evening watching a Red Sox game, I get bribed with a back massage. When he took me to Fenway Park, he was kind enough not to join in with the “Yankees Suck” cheers (very loudly). When I took him to a Yankee-Red Sox game, I tried not to gloat (too much) over Curtis Granderson’s 8th inning grand slam. We had it all figured out.

Then, the game-changer: it was the top of the 9th at that Yankee-Sox game, the Yanks were up 10-3, and I’d already been booed at by a drunk middle-aged man in a Jeter jersey for snuggling up to a boy in a Boston hat. One of my boyfriend’s favorite Red Sox came up to bat and, as he stood up to watch the swing, the unthinkable happened:

I found myself rooting for the Red Sox.

Not for a win, necessarily. Not for a grand slam or a home run or even a miraculous tie game. But in that moment, watching the boy who I once jumped backwards into a crosswalk just to wave hello to, I wanted to see him smile. Whatever it took.

That means more than just compromise. The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is, after all, one of respect. When Red Sox icon Johnny Pesky passed away earlier this week, the Yankees held a moment of silence in honor of the legend. We love to hate each other’s team because they give us the fun of watching a good game. They give us something to root for, something to love.

I love how my boyfriend looks in that beat-up Boston hat. I love how his dad, after the Sox lost to the Yankees, said, “well, you can’t spell envy without NY!” without a trace of envy in his voice.  I love how he’s taught me how to tell a curve ball from a fastball before its even thrown. I love the smirk he gives me when he catches me hiding Post-its with Yankee logos in his apartment. And today, on our one-year anniversary, I can say I will love these things always. Even if, on our anniversary, the Red Sox beat the Yankees.

Happy one-year, babe. Here’s to the next year of love, rivalry, hidden Post-its, and a relationship worth rooting for. (Let’s go Yanks.) TC mark

image – Joy

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