Ever since April of 1912 when the Boston Red Sox played their first game against the New York Yankees (known as the Highlanders back then) there’s been an intense rivalry against the fans of both teams. For years, the chants of “Yankees Suck” have echoed throughout Fenway Park whenever the Yankees come to Boston. Red Sox fans, and many fans in general, hate the Yankees. How many know why? 1960s turmoil intensified Yankees resentment, which in turn intensified the rivalry.
People in the 1960s rebelled against authority. President Nixon wasn’t a popular guy, especially after doing little to de-escalate the Vietnam War that President Johnson had lost control over. People resented President Nixon because he was stubborn and powerful and couldn’t relate to most people, much like the Yankees. They were seen as the authority, the very figures that represented everything that war protesters and Civil Rights activists were fighting against. This came as a result of years of dominance in Major League Baseball where the Yankees were seen as a powerhouse— a team stacked with so much power that few other teams had little chance.
1960s Turmoil Intensified Yankees Resentment
Later in the decade, protesters saw the Yankees as a team that wielded too much power and yielded next to nothing to the underdog. That’s why everyone in New York City flocked to the New York Mets in the late 1960s. The Mets symbolized John Q. Taxpayer, a beacon of hope to former Brooklyn Dodger fans still reeling from their departure to California. The Mets represented the idea that things could get better for the little man, especially after years of finishing in the cellar in the National League. Since the Yankees had accumulated so much power and authority by then, they were rejected along with the rest of the establishment.
Even after George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees in the 1970s they continued to be seen as the establishment. The famous baseball writer Roger Angell once said that winning isn’t fun if it continues forever. The Yankees exemplified that by winning generic World Series trophies with little or no effort. Players like Wade Boggs signed with the Yankees because they knew they’d get that World Series ring, but for what? Hard work and effort? Doubtful.
The Red Sox Yankees Rivalry Intensifies
The Red Sox, on the other hand, despite going 86 years without winning a title of their own, won titles in 2004, 2007, and 2013 in spectacular fashion. They won with teamwork, utilizing the brilliant strategy authored by Billy Beane in Moneyball. It was a team effort that won those World Series, not the doing of one man like Joe DiMaggio or Reggie Jackson. No, as 1960s turmoil intensified Yankees resentment, other teams finally got the chance that had always been denied to them.
There’s a reason why the Yankees are called the Evil Empire. The Red Sox, on the other hand, represent all of New England, the very place where many of the Founding Fathers lived. Like the New York Mets, the Boston Red Sox prove that anything is possible. Like the Miracle Mets of ’69, the Red Sox Impossible Dream Team of 1967 gave hope to Boston during a time of political and social strife, while 1960s turmoil intensified Yankees resentment. The Red Sox represent all that is great about New England and America because it was hard-earned and didn’t come without patience and determination. That’s why they’ll always be better than the Yankees.