My dad is one of those All-American Dads. He’s from the midwest, he played football as a kid, he was a Boy Scout, he likes beer and red meat and potatoes. His only magazine subscription is Sports Illustrated. (Well, and Playboy, but I’m not supposed to know about that. I’m sure he’d tell me he “reads it for the articles.”) Sports are a Big Deal to him, is my point, and I remember being a kid and thinking, “Aw, do we really have to watch this?” whenever he put on a baseball or football game or (and this was the worst) golf. So, even though I’m about as sporty as a porcelain tea pot, I grew up around him and his sports memorabilia. This of course meant that two out of three of his kids turned out more artsy than athletic (and the third… skis, which I suppose counts as a sport).
When I was twelve, he took us to our first game at Yankee Stadium. I had never been to a professional sporting event at this point in my life and my interest in baseball was mostly limited to a vague curiosity in my brother’s bubble gum cards. Truth be told, I found baseball boring.
But there’s a huge difference between watching a game in a stadium, with the noise and the crowd and the hot dogs, and watching it on TV. The Yankees lost that first game—this was during the slump between Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter, so they weren’t so great in those days—but I was hooked. That game even helped cure my Mets vs. Yankees ambivalence. The Mets were the obvious choice where New York baseball teams were concerned at the time, still playing well after their 1986 World Series victory, but Yankee Stadium, man. That place called to me.
So as a teenager, I became a casual fan, and I looked forward to our annual pilgrimage to Yankee Stadium (I still manage to cajole my dad down to the city for a game about once a year). Then I went to college in Massachusetts in the late 90s when the Yankees had one of the best lineups in baseball history. My college fan years involve two words: Boston fans. I used to get threatened with bodily harm when I wore my Jeter jersey around the dorms. In fact, I dated a Boston fan for several years, and most of our more colorful arguments were about baseball. Having to defend my baseball-related choices pushed me from being a casual fan to a serious one.
I got called a Pink Hatter a lot. I don’t know if this is a country-wide phenomenon or not, but in Boston, “Pink Hatter” is a derogatory nickname for the girlfriend of a baseball fan, the vapid chick who is just at the game because her boyfriend made her go. Girls aren’t supposed to know or care about baseball. I’d find a group of dudes at a party chatting about Roger Clemens and start to offer my opinion, and I’d get a pat on the head for my trouble, like, Don’t worry, girlie, we got this. So I had to assert myself. The trick is to use statistics. Like, “Sure, Brett Gardner is a great ballplayer, but he’s been hitting below .250 all season and his on-base percentage is only, like, .300, so maybe you want to bench him on your fantasy team.” (I’m just saying, ladies. Men are sometimes impressed when a cute girl knows her baseball trivia.)
So that is the story of how I became a baseball fan. These days, I’m a little obsessive. I love the history of the sport, love the statistics, the players, the handlebar mustaches. I love seeing games live and have been to a half-dozen stadiums around the country. I love the lingo of baseball, love listening to podcasts and reading blogs and keeping up with players. I love fantasy baseball and how much trash talking my league does and how I can have my baseball boyfriend Joe Mauer (seriously, that guy is hot, even if he’s not a Yankee) catching for Yankee ace CC Sabathia. And, evil empire or not, I love the Yankees above all other teams and go to see them as many times each season as money/time will allow. (They win, dude. I don’t want to hear it.)
Kate McMurray is a NYC-based writer, editor, and baseball fanatic. She writes m/m romances and reads lots of books. She also likes crafts and plays the violin and lives in Brooklyn in an apartment over an ice cream parlor. Kate’s baseball novel, Out in the Field, is available now from Loose Id (http://www.loose-id.com/Out-in-the-Field.aspx). The novel has lots of hot guys and baseball. What more could you ask for? Visit her at www.katemcmurray.com.
Matt Blanco has had a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career as the first baseman for the legendary Brooklyn Eagles, but age and a knee injury are threatening to end it. That’s when rookie Ignacio Rodriguez walks into his life. Matt has a policy of not getting involved with anyone for fear that they might share his secret with the world: that he’s a gay professional athlete. But this new rookie has him wanting to throw that policy out the window.
Iggy Rodriguez just got everything he ever wanted: a position in the starting lineup of the Brooklyn Eagles, his favorite team since he was a kid. Even better, he’s playing alongside his idol Matt Blanco. A locker room encounter one day reveals that he and Matt have even more in common than he would have guessed.
When Matt and Iggy fall for each other, they have a hard road ahead, their path to happiness blocked by injuries, trades, and the New York media hungry for a scandal. Fate has pitched them a game-winning run, but will the choice between love and baseball make them with a no-hitter instead?