Co-founder Adrienne J. Romero co-wrote this article. Graphic by staff graphic designer Sumen Imtiaz.
*Disclaimer: Shabbir interviewed David Negron because of Romero’s personal relationship with Negron. Negron is also SoCul’s Financial Analyst.
Patti Sharick said her father was a New York Yankees fan who watched their games every summer — she’d be swimming in her pool or listening to music in her room.
Then, in 1977, the Yankees beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 for their 21st World Series championship. She said that’s when she jumped the bandwagon, and has been riding it ever since.
Sharick, of Colonia, is one of the hundreds of Yankees fans from New Jersey. She and other New Jersey fans said there’s only one word to describe the Bronx team’s 11-year drought.
“Frustrating,” she said. “But I still love the Yankees.”
It’s the history and the culture
Sharick, 63, has been a Yankees fan since she was 19. At the time, iconic players filled the starting line up including: shortstop Bucky Dent, left fielder Roy White, left fielder Lou Piniella, catcher Thurman Munson, third baseman Graig Nettles, right fielder Reggie Jackson and pitcher Ron Guidry.
The Yankees dominated the scene winning constant back-to-back championships (1927-28; 1937-39; 1950-53; 1961-62; 1977-78; 1998-2000). In 2009, they snagged the title by winning the series 4-2 over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Patrick Hamilton, of Jersey City, has been a Yankees fan for 14 years. He said the win over Philly stayed with him the most. He had a lot of friends who are Phillies’ fans and they were “upset” with his celebration.
“The love for our team and the players we have makes us love the team and support them no matter what,” Hamilton said.
Joy Codilla, of Jersey City, said she’s been rooting for the white pinstripes for as long as she can remember. She credits her father — who works at the hospital right next to Yankee stadium — for inspiring her to cheer for them.
“The history is just so rich with some of the most legendary players and moments in baseball,” Codilla said. “And I think it’s just the way New York City is. They’re part of the culture and they really embrace the team.”
In New York, it’s impossible to pass by a souvenir shop without seeing the Yankees’ famous “NY” logo on merchandise. Even famous rappers like rap group A$AP Mob normally sport Yankees fitteds and other clothing, showing their support for the local team.
But the Big Apple does have another local team in baseball — the New York Mets. But that squad hasn’t been as proficient as the Yankees, only winning two World Series championships in 1986 and 1969.
“The Yankees have a long history of success, which creates a strong and loyal fan base,” David Negron said. “The new generations that are born in NY and NJ always see how big the Yankees are, so the fan base continues to grow.”
Negron, of Bayonne, said his parents raised him into Yankee fandom. His earliest memory of the team is in 2006 when Randy Johnson was the starting pitcher, and Negron would watch — with his grandparents and aunt — Johnson dominate the mound.
For Sharick, one of the things that keeps people reeled in is the energy from the Yankee stadium, which is “so strong” that she can feel it when she watches games from home.
“Start with the history, then there’s the electricity at the stadium that isn’t matched anywhere,” she said. “They may not always win, but they do go out fists and feet flying.”
“Even during losing seasons they can put on a show; Judge, Stanton, Voit, Urshela, Core 4+1, Tino, Donnie, Brosius, Gator, Goose, Thurm, Bucky, Lou, Mantle Maris — need I say more?”
And amidst that legendary lineup Sharick mentioned, future hall of famer Derek Jeter is another one.
The impact of Derek Jeter
Codilla said her earliest Yankees memory is the 1996 World Series, where the Yankees won their first championship in almost two decades. She said her favorite memory is Jeter’s final game.
“It was my whole childhood just leaving before my eyes. And the way he left Yankee stadium with the walk-off hit was everything,” Codilla stated.
The veteran hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning as New York beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 on Sept. 25, 2014, which was Jeter’s final home game at the Bronx stadium.
Hamilton’s favorite Yankees moment was during their last World Series win, in 2009. When watching a game, he usually dons a Mariano Rivera jersey.
But his favorite player was No. 2.
“On the field it’s obvious but what he participates off the field is equally important,” he said. “For instance his Turn 2 Foundation and his leadership amongst his group of guys throughout the years.”
Jeter recorded multiple career-high numbers in 1999 and won both the All-Star Game MVP and World Series MVP in 2000. The now-retired Yankee has become such an icon that his jersey number serves as a fashion statement and cold lyric in a song.
Negron said he always supported Jeter, aspiring to be like him on and off the field. The World Series win in 2009 was also his favorite because the team was really fun to watch.
Jeter was one of the starting players on the Yankees’ 2009 championship team. Other acclaimed players include: pitchers Rivera and CC Sabathia and infielders Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.
But now it’s been awhile since the large fanbase got a taste of victory.
Earlier in October, the Yankees were eliminated after losing 3-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays. On Tuesday, the Dodgers knocked out the Rays for the 2020 World Series title — their first since 1988.
Sharick said every loss hurts — especially in the postseason.
“In the postseason, I can feel my insides tearing,” she said. “The severity depending on what point the playoffs are and where they are in the series.”
The drought is rough
Losing is never fun for loyal fans. But Codilla said she has a more positive outlook.
“(It’s) a bit heartbreaking but it’ll make the next World Series title feel amazing,” she said.
Meanwhile, Hamilton said it’s been hard trying to stick it out.
“I feel like I don’t even know what winning is anymore,” Hamilton said. “It’s been hard to be a fan but the last thing they need is for us to lose faith in them.”
Aside from the Yankees’ losses, teams like the Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals saw their first championship wins after at least 50 years.
For Negron, it was tough to see his team lose in the postseason. He was at home when he saw the New York team drop the final game.
He felt like this was the Yankees’ year to win, and barring some unfortunate injuries and suspensions, he believed that the Yankees would be in the World Series.
“These last few seasons have been very frustrating. The Yankees goal each season has been a World Series or bust. I know many fans can agree with me. If we don’t win it all, we’re not happy.”
Negron believes that if they enter the postseason healthy next season, they will deliver their 28th championship, and Sharick thinks the same.
“What else (would we want)? #28!” she said.