The New York teams inspired deep loyalty and exceptional enthusiasm from their fans. The frenzy that surrounded baseball in the Glory Days was driven in part by the ferocious hometown competition among the Dodgers, the Giants, and the Yankees. But it was more than that. In season, baseball was everywhere in the city. Crowds gathered around appliance store windows to watch the game on newly mass-produced televisions. Whole streets came to a standstill when the local favorites won.
After World War II, New Yorkers welcomed back their teams and their heroes with open arms, ready to embrace baseball and the normalcy that it promised. The enthusiasm only grew as the Cold War unfolded, making baseball a welcome antidote to air-raid drills, reports of Communist threats, and a new war on the Korean peninsula. And the passion for home-town baseball, dividing the city as it did, also united neighborhoods with a loyalty that reflected what it meant to have to choose sides. People’s attachment to their chosen team became part of their identity—individually and collectively.
The Dodgers = Brooklyn. The Yankees = The Bronx. The Giants = Manhattan. Maybe. But being a fan was not just a matter of what borough you lived in. New Yorkers’ allegiance to a particular team defied any simple formula – it was the product of a complicated mix of community culture and personal identity. With three home-town clubs to choose from, declaring a team meant embracing its image as well as its players and managers.