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  • When my grandmother died she left me one thing. A gold painted New York Yankees replica World Series ring. It sounds more like something you'd get from a grandfather, but I didn't have one of those. I had a grandmother who loved the New York Yankees. And when I say loved, she'd literally write love letters to the radio announcer, Phil Rizzuto, who used to play for the team. When I was young she would call my house for two reasons, to speak French with my mother, and talk baseball with me. I could hear her smoking as she gripped the phone, coughing in between monologues about Reggie Jackson and Don Mattingly.

    The only mail I received as a kid were sports columns from the New York Times about the Yankees. She would underline certain passages she wanted me to focus on with a red pen, and add scraggly liner notes of her own commentary off to the side. She was educating me in her way, on the fundamentals and nuances of baseball, and I guess on life. She'd always ask me why my team, the Minnesota Twins, had one black player, Kirby Puckett. "Is Minnesota racist?" I didn't know much about that word at the age of 9, but I looked it up after that.

    One October she came to visit, and I remember my parents put her up in a nearby apartment, I'm guessing because she smoked so much. They'd send me over to her place with dinner every night, and we'd sit happily in front of the TV to watch the World Series. She'd talk the entire game, commenting on every play, telling me history of players and why the Yankees didn't make it to the big game that year. Despite all of her efforts, I kind of hated the Yankees. They came to represent everything I felt was wrong with sports; the money, the stacking of a lineup with talent from other teams, the evil owner, who my grandmother referred to by his first name, "George."

    Growing up, I didn't have a grandfather to teach me about baseball, to take me to a game, to tell me stories. I had a grandmother who filled me with so much baseball information that I could have covered the Yankees as an 8 year old. Yesterday, for the very first time in my life, I went to see the Yankees. It felt, in a way, like coming home.
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