10/18/2003 7:29 PM ET
Fish fan caught in the Bronx
NEW YORK -- It wasn't hard to find Paul Alberts on Saturday.
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
He was the guy, amid hundreds of Yankees fans wearing pinstripes jerseys and dark blue NY-logo tops, wearing a satin teal Marlins jacket.
And he was all alone.
Yankees fans, all fired up for Game 1 of the 99th World Series, were looking at him like he was from Jupiter.
And he is. Jupiter, Florida.
"I just moved here for work about three months ago, and I don't really know many people up here," Alberts said. "But a co-worker offered me a ticket, so I said, 'Yeah, I'll go.' I've been a Fish fan since they started up."
Alberts said he wasn't too worried about being heckled during the game. Mostly because he figured it couldn't be any worse that what he was absorbing before the game.
"Yeah, I think I've probably heard it all already," he said. "I'm a little disappointed, actually. I'd heard about how creative these fans are, but I'm getting an awful lot of 'Fry the Fish.' Maybe it'll get better inside the stadium."
One of the guys giving Alberts some good-natured ribbing was Carl Hammond, who lives eight blocks from The House That Ruth Built and admitted that he had a modicum of respect for anyone with the audacity to root against the Bombers in the middle of the Bronx.
"I'm gonna go easy on the guy, because for one thing, he's got a lot of [guts] coming out here and wearing that jacket," Hammond said. "And I kind of wore myself out in the ALCS, giving it to the Red Sox fans."
Nonetheless, Hammond found it in him to mock the state of Florida itself, chanting "Hanging Chad!"
"That's not bad," said Alberts. "Maybe the best one so far."
Hammond said he hadn't seen any other Marlins fans, and he didn't expect to.
"It's not like it's a real short trip from Florida to New York," he explained. "Boston to New York, on the other hand, is a different story. It was disgusting to see how many [Red Sox fans] were here, and you know how there's strength in numbers, so they were being all bold and loud.
"But we got the last word. Bye-bye, Boston. Have a nice winter."
Listening to Hammond talk, Alberts was smiling wide. His Fish have more ball to play, he was about to enter Yankee Stadium for the first time, and win or lose, heckling or not, he was determined to have a good time.
"I've just heard so much about this place, and I want to experience all of it," he said. "That the Marlins are even here makes any abuse I might have to take well worth it. And besides, these are good fans. They might yell at me, but they only do it because they love their team so much.
"How can you not respect that?"
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.