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How Hillary Clinton Became A Hated Yankees Fan

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How Hillary Clinton Became A Hated Yankees Fan

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to Vice-President Joe Biden speak as they campaign together during an event in Scranton, Pennsylvania, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller

In my view, God invented baseball to provide a sanctuary from the fallen world of politics. I believe I’ve missed two televised Red Sox games this year. To me, the seven month major league season is the sporting equivalent of, say, Downton Abbeya complex, seemingly endless narrative filled with surprising events and unforgettable characters.

My earliest specific baseball memory is racing into the bathroom where the old man was shaving to tell him that the Giants’ Bobby Thompson had hit a miraculous ninth inning home run to defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers in a one game playoff. At first, Dad thought I’d imagined it. That was 1951, for those of you keeping score at home. However there are older home movies of me imitating the Dodgers’ Howie Schultz at age three.

It follows that baseball is both too important and too trivial to lie about. Even if your name is Hillary Clinton. But hold that thought.

Some years ago, I overheard my wife explain to a bossy woman friend why she allowed me to watch ball games on TV.

It went something like this:

“Well, if I told him he couldn’t, he’d do it anyway. He doesn’t tell me what I can watch on TV. Also, my Daddy was a baseball coach, so sometimes we watch games together. Do I ever get tired of it? Sure. But there are a lot worse habits a man can have. When Gene’s watching baseball, he’s home, he’s sober and he’s not out in some titty bar with the boys.”

Sorry fellows, but she’s taken. Having spent her childhood riding in school buses all over Arkansas and Oklahoma with wisecracking teenaged baseball players, Diane’s often the woman laughing when the others are gasping for breath.

In that she somewhat resembles, believe it or not, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. According to everybody who knew Hillary as a child, she was a passionate baseball fan. Her own father, a former Penn State football player, taught her early how not to swing like a girl.

At a 1994 White House picnic celebrating Ken Burns’ documentary film “baseball,” Hillary surprised onlookers by stepping into the batting cage and smacking a couple of pitches. The Washington Post covered the event, mentioning in passing that she’d always been a Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees fan—like many Chicagoans for whom hating the crosstown White Sox means loving their rivals.

(That’s basically how I came to the Red Sox. As a National League kid in New Jersey, Yankee-hating was in my DNA. Also, Ted Williams.)

Indeed, a 1993 Post profile of Hillary quoted childhood friends saying  that she’d been a walking encyclopedia of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris lore—this before word went out among the Washington press clique that shaming her as the World’s Biggest Liar was the solemn duty of every ambitious pundit.

Now normal human beings take a person’s word about these things. But our esteemed political press corps, as Bob Somerby points out in a series of witheringly funny blog posts on this solemn topic, isn’t populated by normal people. Information and facts, he writes “no longer play a role in our discourse… It’s narrative all the way down! The children select a preferred group tale. Then, they all start reciting.”

And so they have on the topic of Hillary Clinton, baseball fan. The fun began in 1999, when the then-First Lady was contemplating running for the U.S. Senate from New York. She made the mistake of going on the “Today Show” and telling Katie Couric she’d always been a Yankees fan.

The host objected. Wasn’t she a Chicagoan and a Cubs fan?

“I am a Cubs fan,” Clinton said. “But I needed an American League team…so as a young girl, I became very interested and enamored of the Yankees.”

Without bothering to check his own newspaper’s reporting on this critical issue, a Washington Post “Style” reporter wrote that “a sleepy-eyed nation collectively hurled” at the surprising claim. The New York Times’ Kit Seelye dubbed it “a classic Clintonian gesture.”

And they were off to the races on the Sunday shows. Famous baseball fan George Will denounced what he called a “Clintonian lie, which is say, an optional lie and an embroidered lie.” He used the word “mendacity.” Jonathan Yardley pronounced it “a magnificent example of Clintonian vulgarity.” Ever obliging team-player Doris Kearns Goodwin used the word “sacrilege.”

And so it’s gone throughout Hillary Clinton’s public life. To my knowledge not one of these elaborately offended pundits has ever admitted error on this trivial, but telling theme. As recently as July 2016, New York Times columnist Gail Collins cited the troubling claim as evidence that Hillary Clinton is opaque and unknowable.

Examined closely, it’s amazing how many Hillary-the-liar claims follow a similar pattern. And they wonder why she’s iffy about holding press conferences.

Photo: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to Vice-President Joe Biden speak as they campaign together during an event in Scranton, Pennsylvania, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller

Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate. A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows. Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

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  1. Theodora30 August 24, 2016

    I remember what a big deal the media made of this. The damage done by our “liberal” media’s game playing is massive. The investigation of the Whitewater faux scandal was driven by the NY Times’ reporting. It cost $70 million and distracted us from critical issues like Terrorism. The media gave Gore the same treatment yet praised Dubya as a regular guy who would be more fun to have a beer with, seriously damaging his candidacy and contributing to his defeat. W are still paying a huge price for that. Now they are itching to shut down the Clinton Foundation. I have watched this for years and it still astounds and sickens me.

    A democracy cannot function if its citizens are not well informed. No wonder we are in such bad shape.

    1. Rick2101 August 24, 2016

      It is not so much that “we” are in bad shape. It is the 40% of the electorate is unwilling to believe Trump is a very successfully con-man. I do not believe that Donald “The Fraud” Trump would allow the middle or lower classes succeed. In his view if someone gets more, he must somehow get less. Trump believes the old saying: “I got mine, now you get yours”

      1. jmprint August 24, 2016

        After he has made it impossible to get yours of course.

        1. Rick2101 August 24, 2016

          You are correct Trump is a con-man just like his father and grandfather, Frederick. All of them were swindled as people as they could. Some say the Trump family were just “good businessmen”, but their is line be conducting business and pulling of a scam. The Trump family just doesn’t know the difference.

      2. Theodora30 August 24, 2016

        When such a large minority supports an authoritarian oligarch yet yammers about how they love freedom we are (our democracy is ) in very bad shape. When journalists are so busy acting like our election is high school prom king and queen contest and refuse to give voters crucial information they need to make an informed choice we are in very bad shape.
        Years and years of right wing propaganda aided and abetted by the mainstream media and not countered by Democrats have taken a big toll. I am still astounded at the extreme things well educated family members who used to be reasonable moderates now believe. It is extremely frightening.

        1. Rick2101 August 24, 2016

          The PEW Research Center had an article last year that demonstrate the fear of poorly educated white males. “Democrats hold advantages in party identification among blacks, Asians, Hispanics, well-educated adults and Millennials. Republicans have leads among whites – particularly white men, those with less education and evangelical Protestants – as well as members of the Silent Generation.” http://www.people-press.org/2015/04/07/a-deep-dive-into-party-affiliation/
          When the Founding “Fathers” formed this nation and created the Constitution every time they spoke about “the people” they meant white males who owned property. Now that the white male majority is shrinking and their domination of society is slipping, some are very paranoid and view all who are not one of them as being the “problem”. Thank goodness that those who support those views, either through greed or ignorance, are a minority, about 50 to 55 million voters out of a possible 150 million. Now while that is a lot of followers, Trump will never be President of the United States. Donald “The Fraud” Trump has the small minded completely bamboozled and the greedy fawning all over him.

  2. Eleanore Whitaker August 24, 2016

    I guess if you wanted to hide your collusion and involvement in a terrorist attack you would A. Try to impeach a president. B. Create a massive Whitewater scandal and C. While the public is obsessing over relative minutiae, you are behind the scenes getting 9/11 all wrapped up, neat as a pin so no one could EVER connect the Big Oil boys and their warped, profiteers in military industrialist states from appearing to be anything less than innocent lambs. My oh my but aren’t the boys always into something?

    Now of course, Hillary said she was a Yankees fan and how dare ANYONE say that is not a lie worthy of jail? I live in NJ. I am and have always been a Chicago Bears, Mets, Calgary Flames and Lakers fan.

    Let a man say he is a fan of an out of state sports team and no one bats an eyelash.

    I am so sick and tired of men trying to hang on for dear life to their male domination routine. Don’t these little boys have anything better to do with their lives than play arm judge and jury?

    1. Gene Lyons August 24, 2016

      Um, some of the worst offenders here are women.

      1. Eleanore Whitaker August 24, 2016

        Awwww…Look ladies…Mr. Genie with the Too Teeny Weeny is bitching because he can’t find women who go wandering off with AR-15s in hand shooting 1st graders. Genie with the Too Teeny Weeny is desperate to make women to be his “bad girls.”

        Puhlease..You men can stand the sight of each other unless it’s to bash a woman. You men can’t EVER admit you are wrong much less utter the words I AM WRONG…try it Genie…maybe it’ll put the magic back in your too Teeny Weeny?

        1. Gene Lyons August 24, 2016

          You, Eleanor, are a damn fool.

          1. Eleanore Whitaker August 24, 2016

            Wrong…I am a woman who spent her entire life surrounded by men who taught me how to hit back harder than I get.

            So…didn’t any woman ever tell you…Size matters…and not that teeny weeny in your jeans…in that fat head with the teeny Genie brain.

  3. CrankyToo August 24, 2016

    Having been a devout Red Sox fan since Walt Dropo was their first baseman, I have a natural disdain for the Yankees and their fans. But what I really hate are lying, rat bastard, pseudo-intellectual con men like George Will and all the other scum-sucking sh!tbirds who would disparage Mrs. Clinton over something so baseless and petty.

    Republicans are scum, as are the media rats who foment and perpetuate their lies.

    (One of these days, I’m gonna tell you how I REALLY feel.)

  4. rabrown99 August 24, 2016

    Now I better understand why the media is so intellectually deficit when commenting (or often NOT commenting) on politics and Global Climate Change.

  5. rabrown99 August 24, 2016

    clarifying: please add “because they’re shallow” to my last post.

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