USA Today Sports

One Red Sox player who understands the Yankees hate

Rob Bradford
October 05, 2018 - 9:20 am
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Steve Pearce wasn't unlike a lot of kids growing up Red Sox fans. Sure, they would love to play professional baseball, as long as it didn't involve wearing Yankees pinstripes.

"I hated the Yankees. I HATED the Yankees growing up," Pearce said. "They were the enemy."

When told there was a photo circulating of Aaron Judge wearing a Red Sox hat as a youngster, Pearce immediately made it clear there would be no such images of him in a Yankees hat. "No, I would never wear anything like that," he insisted.

Pearce's dislike for the Yankees is somewhat of a unique story.

This is a kid who not only grew up in Florida -- with his father pushing allegiances thanks to the family's Massachusetts' roots -- but also actually ended up wearing the uniform he had sworn off years before, spending a brief stint in New York during the 2012 season.

"It was in the back of my mind, thinking, ‘I wish this was a Red Sox uniform.’ But when I was in the Yankee uniform I was a Yankee," he said. "I wasn’t trying to throw games. My goal was to beat the Sox."

But, thanks to a trade earlier this season, order has been restored in Pearce's world.

The place he had come first the first time back in 2004 (coincidentally attending the game where Jason Varitek fought Alex Rodriguez) was now his home office, with the bonus of getting a chance to put the dagger in those dreaded Yankees. Talking crap to his college roommate Steve Tolleson (whose dad, Wayne, was a former Yankee) was one thing. Doing on-field damage vs. New York was next level.

"This is happening. You can be a fan and a player at the same time," said Pearce of realizing his lot in life upon being dealt to the Red Sox.

"History tells us it’s different," he added regarding the rivalry. "Everybody in baseball knows it’s Red Sox and Yankees. That’s the rivalry. Duke and Carolina. Everybody knows that’s the rivalry. You can feel it. You can feel it with the fans. We know it’s there."