WEB EXCLUSIVE

Banned in the Bronx

By DAN ACKMAN

NEW YORK, Nov. 1-- I got a call yesterday from my law school buddy Bill Fredericks, an avid Yankee fan, asking me if I wanted to go to the World Series.  Bill knows I am a Met fan, so he put a condition on the offer: I could not be emotionally neutral. 

I told him I was not neutral, not in the least, not after Sept. 11, and not when any New York team is competing against one of these nouveau sunbelt teams, like the Arizona Diamondbacks, all of whom I hate instinctively.  I have also grown to admire and respect the Yankees in their championship run-- how could you not? 

So off we went, Bill in his Yankee hat, which he claims is his "lucky" hat although he bought it just a few weeks ago, and me in my new FDNY hat, which I bought last night. 

As you have heard by now, the game was a classic.  After being tied 1-1 most of the way, the Yanks staying in it on a great throw to home by leftfielder Shane Spencer and a tag by catcher Jorge Posada.  Arizona went ahead 3-1 in the eighth and Arizona decided to remove Curt Schilling, despite the fact he had given up just three hits and was all-but untouchable all night. 

In the ninth, the Yankees, having gotten to Arizona closer Byung Hyun Kim, the guys in face-paint appeared.  

Bill and I were seated in the front row of the upper deck behind home plate.  There was a rail in front of us and below the rail a metal-plated fašade.   The men with blue-and-white faces to demonstrate their devotion (It was Halloween mind you, but I suspect these guys pain their faces every night, game or no game) came down to lean over the rail and make extra noise by banging on the facade. 

It seemed like a good idea, so I joined them in the banging.  How is that for emotional partiality? The tactic proved effective as the Yankees rallied, putting a man on with one out.   Who knew it was illegal? 

Soon security guards converged on the face-painters and on me, pointing us out to other, more distant security guards, and calling for police backup.  These were the guys who were making too much noise at Yankee Stadium. Or was it the wrong kind of noise?  They surrounded us and told us we were being ejected. 

But before we left, our tactic worked.  Tino Martinez hit a two-run home run with two outs to tie the score.  

As soon as he did, cops-- real NYPD, not stadium security-- escorted us toward the exits.  But when we reached the corridor, the cops turned and went back toward the seats! 

The face painters signaled I should follow them-- I had become one with the face painters!  But I decided to make my own way as to be less conspicuous, and managed to go back into the stadium a few sections down. 

After the top of the 10th, I went back to our original seats to join Bill.  But now he was gone.  The guys in the row above us told me Bill had been ejected, too.

Now to say Bill is mild mannered is to put it mildly.  He keeps score at ball games on his own hand-crafted score sheet.  The only time I have seen him truly exercised is when our friend Lee challenged his understanding of the fine points of the assumption of risk doctrine. But he was ejected!  Guilty by association with face painters and metal-bangers.

So I was alone with 50,000 others as Derek Jeter won the game in the bottom of the tenth on a home run to the shallowest part of the rightfield seats.  I was a tremendous finish, but what happened to Bill?  Had he seen it?

This morning I found out that Bill, too, had eluded security and thus bore witness to this classic finish.