New York Yankees: Puerto Ricans are born with pinstripes.

BOSTON, MA - JULY 23: New York Yankees fan Noel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico smiles during the fifth inning of the game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on July 23, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 23: New York Yankees fan Noel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico smiles during the fifth inning of the game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on July 23, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /

It was 2016 in San Juan Puerto Rico. My wife and I are making the first decision for our unborn child in Build-A-Bear Workshop. You see, my wife was pregnant with our first child. It was a boy! We just found out that day, and we both decided to “build” a teddy bear in the corniest store in Plaza de la Americas. We picked a traditional tan teddy bear, and I even recorded a message for my son to hear when he pushed the bear’s paw. When it came the time to dress him in the priciest and smallest baseball jersey, we had three options; New York Yankees, New York Mets, or Boston Red Sox. It was a pretty easy decision. The boy will be a Puerto Rican; he cannot escape his heritage. So, we grabbed the team that has represented our people for generations. The teddy bear left the store wearing pinstripes with a midnight navy blue “NY” logo on the left side of the chest.

First, you need to know a little history.

Following the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1898, which formally brought an end to the Spanish-American War, Spain agreed to hand over control of Puerto Rico to the United States. As a result, the island became a US territory.

In 1917, Puerto Ricans were automatically granted citizenship in the United States upon birth; however, with no right to vote in presidential elections held in the United States unless they were residents of the mainland. As a result, on multiple occasions, citizens of the island have gone to the polls to decide whether they want to continue to be a commonwealth, whether they wish to petition for official statehood, or if they wish to become an independent nation. Unfortunately, the United States Congress has never considered the voting results.

So, Puerto Ricans are American citizens that do not have the right to vote for an administration that will make decisions for them.

"“Most Puerto Ricans,” he said, “are Yankee fans.” – The New York Times, 1976."

Puerto Ricans in New York.

The global economic crisis that began in the 1930s and continued through World War II had a significant impact on Puerto Rico, just as it did on the rest of the world. After the war, to assist in modernizing the economy of Puerto Rico, the United States created a program called “Operation Bootstrap.” The New Deal of the 1930s largely inspired this program. The concept was to move away from an economy based on sugar and toward manufacturing. Which eventually was a devastation of the island’s economy.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, factories in the northeastern United States started actively seeking out workers from Puerto Rico. Because fewer jobs were available in Puerto Rico and the airfare was less expensive, thousands of people left the island searching for employment in the United States. As a result, most people who participated in the Great Migration arrived in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. Puerto Ricans mostly settled in New York City, especially in Spanish Harlem, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and the South Bronx.

Fun Fact: There are currently more people of Puerto Rican descent living in the continental United States than there are on the island of Puerto Rico itself.

"“They are the greatest fans.” – Sonia Sotomayor (US Supreme Court Justice and Bronx Native) on Yankees fans."

New York Yankees in Puerto Rico.

During the 1980s and 1990s, many Puerto Ricans returned to the island. The economy was doing better and more jobs were available in warm Puerto Rico. Many left New York because they were tired of the cold (that’s what my great-uncle told me), while others returned after chanting “En mi Viejo San Juan” after too many drinks on a chilly Bronx night. Well, they brought their diehard Yankees fandom to the island.

Here is the thing. Both Generation X and Millenials have family members that live or just came from New York; or even a second cousin that is a “Nuyorican.” So everyone in Puerto Rico had a Yankee exposure at least once in their life while growing up. Not only that, but in the 90s, the Yankees were pretty good. The winning brought a new sentiment to all Puerto Ricans on the island. Also, we had representation in the existing team with Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada.

Many Puerto Ricans like myself have never stepped foot in New York, yet our fandom for the Bronx bombers goes beyond any other. Baseball is Puerto Rico’s pastime; while boxing is a close second, baseball is what our grandparents’ parents listen in the radio by a window in the Puerto Rican heat. As a result, the Yankees have become attached to our culture. Many, again like myself, wish to go to Yankee Stadium at least once in a lifetime. Just imagining it gives me chills.

My wife is not much of a baseball fan. But, she was exposed to the Yankees by her dear great-aunt. The shy old lady would swear at the radio when the Yanks were down. She never saw them in the Bronx. But, her older brother did. Unfortunately, he would never come back or even leave Yankee Stadium alive. He had a heart attack out of excitement when he saw the diamond for the first time. My wife saw the small article that her great-aunt had held on to since the 1950s.

Giancarlo Stanton paid tribute to his mother’s Puerto Rican roots on Roberto Clemente Day. On the back of his Yankees jersey, the slugger proudly wore the Great One’s No. 21.

It was easy to root for the New York Yankees if you were a Puerto Rican living in the Bronx. Especially in the South, where East 161st Street & River Avenue was nearby. The team was the positive outcome of living in one of the worse neighborhoods in New York City. The South Bronx was two-thirds African American or Hispanic by the 1950s. This part of the NYC Borough promoted segregation in one of the darkest periods of our country’s history. What made the Yankees powerful to our community was that they united us. It joined Puerto Rican, Cubans, Dominicans, and African-Americans to the exact cause, and eventually, this alliance left our nation with new creations, like Hip Hop and Graffiti art. Even the team’s name goes with the fact that even those who felt segregated and ignored could call the United States their home. The Bronx Bombers represent the Bronx exactly, representing the community that still to this day will wear a Roberto Clemente’s 21 with a midnight navy blue hat with that ol’ white “NY” logo.

So, why do I follow the “Evil Empire”? Because it represents me. It brings joyful and sad memories. It brings Puerto Rico to life; my home, the beach, the breeze, the people, and the music. Like that teddy bear my son still has, we will continue to wear pinstripes because it represents our identity.

Next. Imagining Aaron Judge in another uniform. dark

I heard one time this phrase in the town where I grew up in Puerto Rico: “Todos somos Yankees aquí. Si no te gusta el equipo es porque no te gusta la pelota muchacho.

(“We are all Yankees here. If you don’t like the team, it’s because you don’t like baseball boy“)