My Baseball Origin Story: Nick Wilson-Smith on the Yankees

Some would deem selecting the New York Yankees as your team to be somewhat of an easy and rather obvious choice. For me it took a little longer, and wasn’t quite so simple.

My journey to Major League Baseball fandom began at a young age as my dad had his own baseball glove, which he had acquired on a trip to New York City in 1979. Naturally this meant I wanted to wield it myself but as it was both oversized and a left handed thrower, it was of little use to me. Reluctantly, I would have to wait a little longer for mine.

My father has always loved NYC and eventually that would spread to me, and inevitably influence my choice of following, but it was a generic interest in baseball that hit me first thanks to some VHS recordings of the one and only “Baseball on Five” back in the late 90s. Often, I’d catch up on last night’s action as soon as I got home from school.

In those days, I was too busy trying to grasp the ins and outs of the game rather than thinking about actually choosing a team. It ended up being a slow process, despite already being a fan of the New York Knicks thanks to playing basketball from the age of ten.

It is no secret that the sports teams I support in life have generally been woeful, so eventually settling on the success of the Yankees franchise may have provided a welcome counterbalance.

But genuinely, adopting them had nothing to do with the long list of championships. [Editor’s note: we believe you, Nick. Honestly, we do.] That’s just not me. I just wanted a team that spoke to me. A team and a city that I could connect with.

Still team-less in 2005, I knew I had to make a decision in order for me to become as invested as possible in the sport. Eventually it came down to a combination of a fast growing intrigue for that East coast city, coupled with completely falling in love with the fabled history of the Yankees.

I was certain that whenever I got the chance to take my first trip stateside, that it would undoubtedly be to NYC. A few nods to the Yanks on my favourite tv show The Sopranos also pointed me in the right direction.

I delved deeper into my research and became fascinated by the myths and legends of Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and the like. I was lured in by the iconic pinstripes and the emblematic interlocking NY logo, the unique traditions of the ball club and an organisation that cultured a winning desire like no other.

The team that has forever had the borough of the Bronx under its spell was now having the same effect on me. By this point, I was yearning for the chance to sit in “The house that Ruth built” and hear the crack of the bat from the likes of Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano or see the legendary cutter of the great Mariano Rivera.

Luckily, in 2007, I did manage to get there in what would be Yankee Stadium’s penultimate season to witness a savage 9-1 drubbing by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays, spearheaded by two Carlos Peña home runs. I was now well and truly hooked.

Since those days, my devotion to Yankees baseball has grown year on year. In 2022, my wife and I spent our honeymoon in NYC and attended an Opening Day matchup with the Boston Red Sox. The spectacle was something else. An 11th-inning walk-off against the old rival and a shiny new Aaron Judge shirt was the icing on the cake.

In the end, I was always destined to pair up with a New York team. I am not ashamed to admit that I fell hard for the romance of not just the sport of baseball itself but the illustrious history of the Yankees.

That subway ride from Manhattan, crossing the Harlem River and arriving at 161st Street is a feeling like no other.

Until next time.

Guest post from Nick Wilson-Smith. You can follow Nick on Twitter @Nick_dws Why not submit YOUR origin story? Hit the “Write for us” link above

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