Missing The Empire State

I’ll focus on Yankees-Phillies in my next post, complete with an exclusive “She-Fan Scouting Report,” but today I was feeling mopey. People kept asking me if I was going to the World Series and I kept having to say no. Even my best friend from high school, a Red Sox fan, called to say, “So are you flying to New York?” I told her I was staying in California. I was so ashamed.
If I hadn’t been so busy with work, I might have hopped on a plane so that I could be in attendance for at least one game. But I didn’t make any plans, so now I’ll just have to watch on TV and deal with it. Still, it’s times like this when New York seems far away and I miss it. I miss my family. I miss New York accents. I miss people walking fast and elbowing each other out of the way. And here’s what else I miss:
* Fall foliage in Central Park.
* Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant.
* Cheesecake.
ny cheesecake_sm.jpg
* The subway.
And I miss everything having to do with Yankee Stadium:
* Freddy.
Freddie Sez web.sm.jpg
* Frank Sinatra.
* The fact that they’ve already painted the field with this.
* The fans….
  Big ones…
  Small ones…
yanks fans.jpg
  And “artistic” ones.
I was so down in the dumps this afternoon, wishing there were other Yankee fans in Santa Barbara, that I left my desk and went for a beach walk. It was a gorgeous day, and this was my view as I did my five miles.
Nothing to complain about, right? I was starting to perk up until my Yankees cap began to attract some unfavorable attention. You could tell people wanted to shake their fists at me and demand, “Why aren’t you a Dodgers or Angels fan? What’s wrong with you?”
And then a mirage….or so it seemed.
No, it wasn’t a hot dog concession in the Bronx, but close. It was the Surf Dog cart owned for 16 years by Bill Connell – a local celebrity for having won a major case against the state of California last week.
A 55-year-old disabled veteran, Bill fought for an exemption for street peddlers like himself who wer
e being forced to pay sales tax on their wares. It was a victory for disabled vets and it made him a hero. And – just my luck – Bill turned out to be a huge Yankee fan. When I told him I was a fan too, he not only handed me a free hot dog but let me interview him on the She-Fan Cam – a happy ending to my day.


  1. ibrenne@yahoo.com

    I know what you mean. I want to be at the world series too. But take this advice my dad (living in NY) game me: It will be freezing at the stadium and with my 40+ inch hi def TV and great people surrounding me, it is just as well. I found another Yankee fan in the checkout line at whole foods. he saw my yankee jeans and we had a great little discussion about how we wanted to play the dodgers but the yankee-phillie matchup will be good. That the results in may mean nothing, just like the angels sweep in june meant nothing. and we agreed that we thought the angels overall are better than the phillies. That being said, the phillies will put up a fight and it should be a great series with the yankees on top. of course!

  2. Jane Heller

    You’re dad is right, ibrenne. But there’s nothing like the electricity of the crowd at a World Series game at Yankee Stadium. Still, watching at home has its upside. And there ARE Yankee fans in Santa Barbara – not many, but they’re here. I agree that the interleague series with the Phillies early in the season is irrelevant. We had a terrible record against Boston and Anaheim, and those matchups had happy endings. I don’t think the Angels are better than the Phillies; I haven’t watched enough of the Phillies to make that judgment. I just know it’s going to be a very tough series with a lot more offense than we’ve seen.

    Didn’t you love that part of the video, levelboss? Bill told me afterwards that he was doing an imitation of the soup nazi on “Seinfeld.” LOL.

  3. levelboss

    yeah, i immediately knew the reference when Bill said it..
    at least he wasn’t doing an imitation of the close-talker! (Judge Reinhold)

  4. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    Aw Jane, we wish you were here also! However, the beach looked great. Loved the interview. Hope you enjoyed your hot dog.

    I just found out that Girardi has a degree in industrial engineering. Ah ha! No wonder he relies on statistics! I’m married to an engineer – they have a different way of thinking than the rest of us.


  5. cheshirecat9

    A lovely ode to New York Jane and it segues nicely into a question I wanted to ask any readers who may live in the city: When the Yankees were in the World Series back in 1999 and 2000 (and possibly before, but I didn’t move here until 1999) the lions in front of the New York Public Library on 5th Ave and 42nd Street (you may remember them from the opening scene of Ghostbusters) wore big Yankee caps. It was awesome. Has anyone been by there recently to see if they are wearing them again? I haven’t had a chance to swing by there yet.

    Unfortunately I am not going to be in attendance at the Stadium. Yeah it will be cold and windy and expensive, but the energy in the stands will be something else. You can’t replicate that experience.

    I can’t wait for tomorrow. Go Yanks!!!

  6. hrcoyankeefan@comcast.net

    I know exactly, I mean exactly, what you mean. I miss NY every day except for in the dead of winter. I lived there from ’76-’80 and they were the bad years, pre-Guliani, as they say. But you will recognize those years as great Yankee years. I was fortunate to see Chris Chambliss win the pennant and Reggie hit the three home runs. Now,I like it up where all the guys live in Westchester and points North, except A-Rod ad Jete. I am feeling it today too for a couple reasons. One, my husband is going to Boston and CT until Sunday (he took your book to read on the plane). I told him he’ll be representing our family on the east coast this week. And secondly, us lucky Coloradans are getting a blizzard tomorrow. Cant’ wait. I’ve left NY twice in my life and can’t wait till the day I move back. Crazy, huh? I also walk five miles a day and and have a magnificent view of the Front Range of the Rockies but, damn, I miss those flaming maple trees and the smell of moisture in the air. So, Jane, this is why we have to go to the parade. Just think about how joyous the city will be. Everybody will be friendly and you don’t need tickets. I have a cousin who is in Brooklyn and an old boyfriend who has a studio in Manhattan. We can make it work!!

    I’ve learned my lesson about Yankee paraphernalia. Just because someone is wearing a Yankee logo, doesn’t make them a fan. I used to say something and they’d say they were fans and then I’d interrogate them. I’d ask them, who are they playing or who won last night and that’s when I found out the truth. They have no idea. You are helping get rid of my cynicism though. I’m thinking about pulling out my 1996 World Champion shirt and wearing it!

    Have a great walk today!

  7. hrcoyankeefan@comcast.net

    The MLB network showed the 9th inning of the Yankees-Phillies game where A-Rod hit a two run homer to tie and Melky got a single to score Robby. I was cheering like it was happening today, not in May. Lidge left a fastball right where Fuentes left his and A-Rod smacked it. How exciting! The Yanks were not playing well during that time of the year and they still almost won two games with Lidge blowing two saves. I do remember that the Phillies hitters looked too comfortable at the plate. A little chin music this time around would be nice. Great piece in NYT about the opposing styles of the two managers. I think NY would prefer Manuel – he’s got more of a NY mentality.

  8. dschaub@gpo.gov

    Ah, This Special Season…made unforgettably special by this blog, and that’s one of the Absolute Truths…wherever we are, and we are everywhere, at least part of our heart wants to be in da Bronx tomorrow nite…I flash back to October 1977…somehow my college buddy from Wisco (now lives in ‘Zona) and I got tix to Games #1 and 2…we were a bit tense about goin’ (back) to NYC, all the press was SO bad about it then, but we had a delightful time with great weather and nice people (everyone hears that all Noo Yawkers are mean & nasty & unhelpful…not close to true, of course)…then we make it to The Stadium, in plenty o’time to watch BP and all that…an anecdote…Don Sutton was out in RF shaggin’ flies, getting some good-natured abuse from the fans…suddenly, he turns around to us and shouts: “HEY — you wanna see my T-shirt?” Everyone stops razzing for a New York Minute — he unbuttons his Dodger uniform shirt, and he’s wearing a YANKEE T-shirt underneath!! To say the least, we went bonkers. Oh yeah, and the Yanks won that game in extra innings on a Paul Blair single…hey, before I forget, THANK YOU for that interview with Surf Dog Bill…priceless once again…!!

  9. Jane Heller

    Levelboss, I loved that close talker episode! I also loved the woman with the big hands. I need to get the show on DVD so I can watch it all over again.

    Just read that NYT article about Girardi and Manuel and the differences in their managing styles and backgrounds, Melissa. So you’re married to a Girardi? HAHA. It should be interesting to see how they each make decisions during the series and whether those decisions will be endlessly debated. And yes, the hot dog was great!

    Sure, kaiser. With the logo on the back pocket.

    Jeff, I feel for Royals fans, as you know from reading my book. I’m extremely grateful that my team is in the World Series. Beyond ecstatic.

    Hmm, Paul. Do you mean Mayor Bloomberg? 🙂

    Gosh, I have no idea about the lions in front of the library, cheshirecat. I hope somebody in the city can answer that question. It would be awesome if they did wear Yankees caps again – and even more awesome if someone would take a pic of them. I wish you were going to the game tomorrow night so you could tell us all about it. It’s funny about the cold and wind. You only feel it when the Yanks are losing!

    I’m with you, Laurie. I don’t miss NY in the winter. I’ll take CA temps hands down! How cool that your husband took my book on the plane. I hope he has a good trip. But on to the parade. You make a good case for it. Let’s see how things go and just maybe we can make it happen. I’ve been to two World Series but never a parade. Not sure if I’ll do the walk today. We have a high wind advisory and I might get blown away. HAHA. I wish I’d seen the game last night on MLB Network. I would have cheered too. I did read the article about Girardi/Manuel (see above comment to Melissa). I’ll still take Girardi. He’s gotten us this far.

    You went to Games 1 and 2 that year, Dave? Pretty heady stuff! And hilarious that Sutton was wearing a Yankee shirt under his Dodger uniform. LOL! You must have flipped out. And to have Paul Blair win it like that must have been heaven. Glad you liked Bill. His hot dogs are good too!

  10. dschaub@gpo.gov

    Yup…gotta admit, I’ve been truly blessed to have gone to games in FOUR different Series…however, only two involved the Yankees…waaay back in ’64, went to WS Game #4 between Yanks & Cards with my best buddy from 8th Grade, Dick Reisman…that was the Ken Boyer (not Clete Boyer) Grand Slam game (Bummer)…then in ’77…then I got a great offer to buy tix to all 4 Oriole home games in the 1979 WS…nobody will believe this today, but the TOTAL price for four games in 1979 was SIXTY DOLLARS! Yes, that means $15 PER GAME, just 30 years ago…Oh, and the O’s lost 3 of 4 to the @#$%^*?! “We Are Fam-A-Lee” Pirates…then finally, Game 1 of the ’83 Series, O’s and Phils…but since my all-time won-loss record is a truly miserable 2-7 for the home team, I wouldn’t dare take FREE tix to N.Y. this year! Now, on the other hand, if they wanna offer me a ticket to a game in PHILLY…?!!?!!

  11. Jane Heller

    Bill is a special guy, Buz. You probably read about him in the LA Times, right? He spent over a dozen years fighting that law about the sales tax.

    Four WS games, Dave? Lucky you, even if your record is pretty bad. LOL. I, on the other hand, am 2-0 at WS Yankees games – and even bigger reason why I should be going! Are you sure you can’t go to a game in Philly?????

    Nice research work, Melissa. I hope cheshirecat comes back to see the answer to his question. And I saw that about Pedro. I can hear the chants now.

  12. cheshirecat9

    I have been checking back periodically to see if anyone saw the lions. Thanks Melissa! I don’t rememebr the lion having a Mets cap in 2000, but I guess that was 9 years and many drinks ago. I will swing by there tonight on my way home from work and if the lions have their caps on I will take a picture on my iPhone and figure out how to send it to you Jane. (I don’t know if anyone else cares, but it is one of those little NYC things that I love.)

  13. Jane Heller

    Thanks, kaybee. It does look good, doesn’t it?

    I’m just learning how to send pics from my iPhone, cheshirecat. (I’m so clueless.) If the lions have the caps, take the pic, click email and send it to me (jane at janeheller dot com). Simple. And I’ll save and post it. If you see any other Yankees/World Series stuff, send that too!

  14. Jane Heller

    Barbara, this was one of the best, most rewarding comments I’ve gotten since I started the blog. Thanks – not only for the work you do but for putting a huge smile on my face. The next part is for Edwin.

    Hi, Edwin. The hot dog Bill gave me was really long – maybe 16 inches! I like my hot dogs with mustard, the kind that’s dark yellow and kind of spicy. Yes, I still do miss New York. My mother lives there. So does my sister and her family. And I have friends there. I wish I could see them all more often. I’m so glad you’re a big fan of the Yankees like I am. I hope they win the World Series, don’t you?

  15. bgalaxy@verizon.net

    jane, I work at a homeless shelter, permanent housing, prevention program. one of the things i do is run a children’s program–afterschool counseling and tutoring. I was tutoring one of the kids today and he said he didn’t want to write or read and I know he needs some work in these ares so i asked if he wanted to read about the yankees. he said yes. so we read yesterday and today’s postings of your blog and he wanted to write you to. below is what he wrote. so your blog does more than bring joy to us, it is educational. barbara

    How big was the hot dog Bill gave you? What do you like on your hot dog with ketchup or mustard or relish? Do you still miss New York? I like the Yankees. I am a big fan. Edwin

  16. etoubman@yahoo.com

    Barbara- I love your post… I am a teacher too, but in a high school in the Boston area, so most of my kids run the other way when I say Yankees, except this year I have connected with a few through my obsession. Jane- the video is awesome. I love Bill and would love to see the lions with Yankees caps, hope it happens. Thanks for a great post again!

  17. Jane Heller

    I really enjoyed my chat with Bill, Elizabeth. He’s one of the great characters in town, and I’m glad I finally met him. I’ve wondered about the paint on the field too. It has to be waterproof or it would come off if it rained. On the other hand, it can’t be permanent or it would stay there forever. Someone needs to explain it to us!

    LOL that your students run when you mention the Yankees, Ellen. Fortunately, you’ve found a few who’ll talk to you! I guess I’ll have to do another video with Bill once the series gets underway, since he seems to be popular here. Maybe he’ll have some words of wisdom while we’re biting our nails. (Getting nervous.)

  18. bgalaxy@verizon.net

    ellen– i am in the boston area too. i just get a few kids in the program who like the yankees and i work with the others to not give me or each other grief. i didn’t think i would ever be using jane heller for tutoring material but yankee magic struck today! one last night of good sleep before the magic begins. barbara

  19. junojen

    Do yourself a favor, Jane and make plans to attend the ticker tape victory parade in NYC! I kicked myself for not going to Boston for their 2004 celebration. Not that it’s a done deal or anything. I’m just sayin’…

  20. robinlyn


    Great post, I understand your sadness. Being in Buffalo is just as bad, close but no cigar! So I’m watching the Yankees classic game 5 of the 2000 WS NYY vs NYM to make myself feel better, its working even though Joe Buck is still annoying 🙂

    Oh and the only time I’ve ever been to CA was to visit a friend in Santa Barbara, so I don’t feel that bad for you, that place was gorgeous!

  21. Jane Heller

    I can’t make plans for the parade until the Yankees win the series, Jen! That’s the frustration. I have to wait till the last minute, because I think the parades are the day after the final game, right? I’d love for it to happen though. It would be so much fun.

    Funny that you’re watching the 2000 game, Robin. I’ve got the MLB Network on. They’re doing a recap of all the postseason games. It’s so much easier watching when you know the Yankees already won the games. LOL. So you’ve been to SB? Then you know I have nothing whatsoever to whine about! It’s absolutely gorgeous. The only problem right now is we have major winds, and the fire trucks are on standby. This is the height of the fire season and it’s a little scary at the moment.

  22. crzblue2

    The winds are kicking hard here too. It was hard walking to the train station in Chatsworth. We are on “Wind Alert”. I am glad your day ended up in a high note Jane. Love the video! Bill looks like a great guy.
    Is wonderful how Barbara was able to connect with Edwin. A friend that is a big Dodger fan like me works at a charter school and she was telling that the kids kept going to her telling her “sorry your Dodgers are out” “There is always next year” and things like that.

  23. Jane Heller

    So you’re having winds too, Emma? Scary stuff right now up here in the hills. I hope I don’t lose my electricity while the game is on tonight! Isn’t it great how Barbara and your friend bond with the kids over baseball?

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