Word of a settlement in the “God Bless America at Yankee Stadium” case prompts a revised take on an incident that potenitally stretched the limits of stadium codes of conduct.
The original version of this post appeared in the May/June issue of the online publication Inertia, when I was writing for free for something else. Content has been modified for TIBH in the spirit of the site and in the wake of the country’s 233rd birthday.
In 1913 a baseball team moved down off a hilltop in Manhattan and began playing its games in a new stadium that rendered its nickname “Highlanders” useless. As a result the colloquial term the papers used to identify it as an American League team stuck. The New York Yankees were born.
So I had to look it up recently, because I have often wondered why North America’s most successful sports franchise is still called what it is called. In an era where political correctness rules the day and individuals with origins from all parts of the world are making up larger percentages of this country’s sports teams and the fan bases that support them; then why the hell are the Yankees still called the Yankees?
The question never needed asking more than when I learned that a New Yorker sued the Yankees in April 2009 because the team allegedly forced him to remain in his seat during a seventh-inning rendition of “God Bless America.” Civil rights violations, compelled patriotism, and Alex Rodriguez’s narcissism can all be yours from the front row for the low-low price of $1,250. Right, Hank?
Now I was not there and it is not out of the realm of possibility that this guy might have broken the seal in the third inning and could not hold his third Miller Lite by the seventh, then caused a scene, and is now trying to make a buck. He is from Queens after all, home of the Mets; whose former home would often smell like The Dead were playing there and not the Phillies. However, it was the policy of ‘The Big Ball Orchard in the South Bronx’ to prevent egress from seating areas while the song is playing or being sung. It is the only stadium where the song is played during every game and not just on Sundays and holidays, which is the league’s policy.
So I looked it up because true Yankees, true patriots, would not restrict freedom in such a manner.
According to Webster’s Third College Edition, the word Yankee has several definitions and can be plotted in reverse chronological order: 1. An inhabitant of the U.S.; 2. A Union soldier in the Civil War; 3. A native or inhabitant of New England. And then there’s number 4: a disparaging term for a Hollander, later for a Dutch Freebooter (pirate).
The Dutch equivalent of John is J-A-N. Kaas is the Dutch word for cheese.
It can be deduced then that a word which has come to broadly define an American–a real, live nephew of my uncle Sam–once was used as an insult the way all classic insults germinate. By preying upon something native to a culture.
Can’t really tiptoe through those tulips.
What is not conjecture is that just because a person might have to pee, seek first aid, or stick a feather in her cap during the seventh-inning stretch it does not necessarily make her unpatriotic. Just pressed, or inconsiderate – especially when the cost of a game is so dear it itself commands a new found respect.
The policy has been changed and it is back to baseball. Regarding the name though, the Steinbrenner boys should change the it back to “Highlanders”… as in the plural version of the 1986 movie. Then they would never die. Yankee Doodle never die.