It is not a state secret in the Yankees Universe that Babe Ruth's daughter has gone rogue. Julia Ruth Stevens publicly roots for the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees' greatest rival, and she also cheers for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the opponent who defeated the Yankees in the 2001 World Series.
This kind of information has been widely reported since the late 1990s, about the time Stevens had a change of heart about supporting the Yankees, and it was repeated over the weekend when the 95-year-old Stevens attended opening day at the D-backs' Chase Field on Friday.
So how did the daughter of the most famous Yankee in history come to support two teams that are incongruous to the pinstripes? Some of it comes down to location.
Stevens is a part-time resident of Sun City, Ariz. during the winter and spring. Come the hotter months, she lives in New Hampshire, where most folks don't take kindly to the Yankees.
Stevens has become one of them she told the Arizona Republic on Friday.
"I haven't been a Yankee fan for years now
"It's the Diamondbacks here, and when I go home I pull for the Red Sox (the team that sold Ruth to the Yankees) in the other league."
This might be an open secret, but it's still kind of shocking that the only living daughter of the greatest Yankees icon isn't a Yankees fan. Not only that, she freely roots for their enemies.
The nice thing is that this isn't about a dispute over money or respect or anything like that. In fact, the reason that Ruth Stevens roots for the Red Sox actually makes for a sweet story. During the 1999 ALCS between the Yankees and Red Sox, the Boston Globe interviewed Stevens and asked her.
The Associated Press picked it up:
For most of her life, Stevens said, she was a Yankees fan, despite living in New Hampshire for more than 50 years. Her husband was a loyal Red Sox fan until the one season in the mid-'90s when he decided he couldn't take another season without a World Series victory. Stevens started rooting for the Red Sox in his place.
"He just gave up on them. I said, 'You haven't.' He said, 'Yes, I have.' I've been pulling for them all these years and they haven't won,' " she told the Globe. "It was about that time I took up for them."
So, when Luis Gonzalez blooped a Series-ending single against Mariano Rivera in '01, Stevens was pulling for the D-backs. And when the Red Sox pulled off the improbable comeback in the '04 ALCS, Stevens reveled in the Yankees collapse and celebrated when Boston exorcised the Bambino's so-called curse. When the Red Sox play the Yankees this season, Stevens won't be rooting for the franchise her father — she still calls him "Daddy" — built.
Stevens did it because she felt bad Boston might lose a member of Red Sox Nation, because she realized how unfair history had been. Because she's her own woman, darnit. Stevens, who was adopted by Ruth after her mother married him, adopted the team that gave him up in 1918.
That's amazing. And pretty awesome.
Big BLS H/N: Baseball Think Factory