New York Yankees Taking Firm Grip upon Armenia

YEREVAN—Should the New York Yankees win the American League pennant and go on to capture a World Series title, the loudest cheer of all may not come from the Bronx.

Roving peddler makes the rounds at Vernisage shopping district in Yerevan with a New York Yankees cap on display.
Roving peddler makes the rounds at Vernisage shopping district in Yerevan with a New York Yankees cap on display.

It may just send off a crescendo 5,000 miles away in Armenia where this country has suddenly gone agog over the men in pin stripes.

Hard to believe but rest assured. Hints of Yankee yippees are seen everywhere. At Vernisage, our eyes rested upon the head of a peddler making his rounds at the popular open-air shopping district in Yerevan toting a Yankees cap.

If seeing is believing, I had to look twice and even a third time to digest such a sight. Being an avid Red Sox fan—and with the two teams playing cat and dog this season—a Boston hat would have been more appropriate.

Rumor has it that when Joe Torre was the Yankee skipper, he sent a supply of hats to Armenia to win over that country. There was also some talk of an exhibition game there.

After all, they play games in the Orient and South America. So why not Armenia? There could just be a 100 mph fastballer lurking in the midst that could help the New York cause.

My curiosity was overwhelming. How did this vendor who was on crutches selling wooden bookmarks wind up with such a prize over his head?

Come to find out, he found it on the ground and didn’t give a hoot about the logo so long as it kept him warm and offered some protection on a rainy day. Of all the pictures I had on exhibit of my trip, it was that one which drew the most interest.

It wasn’t my best shot by any stretch. But it touched off a reaction among viewers. And if any photo does that, it’s certainly worth the paper it’s printed on.

Elderly baseball fan shows off his New York Yankees hat to a granddaughter in Goris.
Elderly baseball fan shows off his New York Yankees hat to a granddaughter in Goris.

Now, I thought I was done with the matter until driving through Goris when all of a sudden, I had my driver pull to a screeching halt.

What the … ?

I did a double take at an elderly man sitting on an embankment with what appeared to be his granddaughter. Once again, he was donning a New York Yankees cap. I stepped out for a photo opportunity and couldn’t resist the question.

“Baron,” I said. “Where did you get that hat?”

“My nephew lives in New York and sent it to me,” he explained. “Do you like it?”

“I happen to come from Boston and would have preferred a hat with two red socks,” I tried telling him in Armenian. “If you wore that cap in Boston, people might complain. There is no love in my city for the Yankees.”

By now, my driver was getting antsy and tried to get me moving again. Off we went but not without an indelible impression. I could understand Yerevan maybe but Goris?

Once more in Stepanagert, I was ambling along and lighting struck a third time. My eye caught a youngster running by with a Yankees hat. Before I could catch up to him, he disappeared.

Between Yerevan and Stepanagert stands 225 miles of unfiltered territory with Goris somewhere in the middle. From one extreme to the next, people were fashioning their Yankee caps without a care in the world.

For the record, there are 30 teams in Major League baseball. I saw no other clubs represented. The Bronx Bombers had the market cornered and were pitching a 3-0 shutout in Hayastan. I’m calling for equal rights.

A letter has just been sent to the Red Sox brass asking for an immediate supply of Boston caps to be sent to the land of Ararat. A proposal was also made for Manager Terry Francona to consider an exhibition in Armenia.

And what better team to play than the Yankees. The winner would get to distribute their hats and uniforms. By virtue of such an entity, perhaps the All-American game could someday become an All-Armenian game and offer a worthy complement to soccer.

It’s all in the best interests of humanity and nothing could achieve this better than baseball.

Batter up!!!

Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
Tom Vartabedian

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