Age-Old Rivalry

Massachusetts’ oldest resident, and one of the few left who were old enough to remember what terrible thing occurred 87 years ago today, died yesterday at 112.

For perspective, Kathryn Gemme was 6 years old when the American League was formed, and 8 when the Red Sox won the first World Series. She attended a game in Fenway Park’s inaugural year of 1912 — at age 17. She would have been old enough to vote (except women didn’t have voting rights yet) when Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth on Jan. 3, 1920. She attended a game during the 2004 season, and the Sox brought the World Series trophy to her house on her 111th birthday.

Long before any of today’s players were alive, Mrs. Gemme used to sit next to a crystal radio set summer after summer and listen to the games, filling page after page with notes about each at-bat.

"She always had a yellow legal pad in her lap and she would write every play — runs, hits, errors, she kept everything," her daughter said. "She knew all the team members, she knew their batting averages. She’d yell at them, ‘Do it, do it! You can do it!’ "

When her husband, Ovella, returned home from work, "we’d sit down at the table and she would read it to him," her daughter said.

A truly remarkable life. Godspeed.

40 comments… add one
  • wow. i can’t imagine living through that span of time, witnessing so much change, etc.
    sounds like she was quite a lady.
    but, this tragic event from long ago to which you refer? surely that was a typo. didn’t you mean to mention the events of 34 years ago today?

    Yankee Fan In Boston January 3, 2007, 11:06 am
  • What an amazing story-lady. God Bless her.

    Shawn January 3, 2007, 11:12 am
  • wonderful story paul, thanks for sharing…it rankles me [kidding] to have to search for reasons why the sox winning 2 years ago was a good thing, but this lady’s 86 year vigil is certainly one of them…

    dc January 3, 2007, 11:13 am
  • Makes me want to go reread “The Glory of Their Times” for the 87th time.

    YF January 3, 2007, 11:33 am
  • A great story, she was quite a lady.
    Imagine living that long, you can actually say things like…
    I was alive before…
    Then list pretty much every modern invention or development.

    LocklandSF January 3, 2007, 2:33 pm
  • Hey, I was alive before the Ipod. And the Playstation. And the CD. And Google. And cable TV.
    And I am not even 40!

    SF January 3, 2007, 2:47 pm
  • uh, i had a black and white tv, and no cable growing up…i used to listen to the yank games on an am transistor radio…

    dc January 3, 2007, 3:34 pm
  • I take issue with calling the “rivalry” between the Yanks and the Sox as the “age old rivalry”.
    In fact, it’s not even a rivalry because it’s so one-sided. The Yanks have a 1,089 to 907 all time head-to-head advantage against the sox. The Yanks lead in head-to-head postseason series results, 2 to 1, unless you also count 78 and then it’s 3 to 1. The Yanks have 26 world championships to 6 for the Sox, and 39 WS appearances to 9.
    My comments will likely be censored because I’m challenging the notion that the teams are somehow EQUAL because the Sox have played the Yanks well over the last 7 years and because of the 2004 comeback in the ALCS. But anyone who wants to cherry pick the last 7 years and find an advantage for the Sox, who’ve won 1 WS to none, better realize that the Sox haven’t even won the division once and the Yanks have won it every single time in that time frame. So I hope that 2001 to 2006 really isn’t the high water mark for Sox fans, or I am laughing at you. And, but for the wild card rule, there wouldn’t even have been a 2004 World Series appearance for the Sox.
    I’m not saying the Sox don’t have impassioned fans, or a fantastic old park, or a fine history, or even great traditions. All I’m saying is that hatred doesn’t make it a real rivalry. No matter how many books, or DVDs or T-shirts you print, the yanks sox “rivalry” has always been one sided and anyone denying that is so biased as to be delusionsal because the numbers don’t lie. SF, you can want the Yanks and Sox to be equal all you want, but they aren’t.
    Happy new year! Go Yanks.

    JS January 3, 2007, 7:02 pm
  • “i used to listen to the yank games on an am transistor radio…”
    I used to occasionally get KMOX from St. Louis on my AM radio, dc, beneath the covers, hiding from my parents who thought I was asleep. It was always a kind of miniature victory to tune in a game from that far away, though I could hardly tell my Dad the next day; he’d have figured out I wasn’t sleeping. I remember times when I delusionally thought that I somehow had tuned in Vin Scully, even though it was like 6pm on the west coast and I lived in Boston, far out of range.

    SF January 3, 2007, 7:39 pm
  • Ah, but for the good old days of Messer and White and the Scooter on WPIX.
    You thirtysomething YFs know what I’m talkin about!

    YF January 3, 2007, 7:43 pm
  • From the Oxford Dictionary:
    rival (noun) 1 a person or thing competing with another for superiority or the same objective 2 a person or thing equal to another in quality

    pastorsteve January 3, 2007, 8:04 pm
  • those were the good old days, weren’t they sf?…we’ve been a bit spoiled by such easy access to our teams nowdays, but i really enjoyed my summer afternoons and evenings listening to the yank broadcasts, even back when they weren’t competing every year…in fact many years they were bad, but the experience made me appreciate the game so much, and not having the visuals allowed me to imagine the great, and not so great, plays…like you, i got into trouble more than once with my dad for tuning into the west-coast games…you and i “fight” a little bit once in awhile, and probably will again, but thanks for sharing your memory with me…that was cool…

    dc January 3, 2007, 8:27 pm
  • Definition 1 stands, pastorsteve, I would think.

    SF January 3, 2007, 8:38 pm
  • Exactly my point, SF.
    On the subject of radio, I used to listen to Red Sox games with my great-grandfather, an old Vermonter. He wouldn’t watch them on TV — said it was much more interesting seeing it in his head. I’d have to agree.

    pastorsteve January 3, 2007, 8:53 pm
  • Even us youngsters remember the days of radio :-). NESN didn’t come to southern Connecticut until I was in high school, so if the game wasn’t on Channel 38, it was on WTIC. Sometimes, late at night, I could even get WEEI, and I always felt so lucky to be listening to Boston-based sports radio. Good days.

    Paul SF January 4, 2007, 10:48 am
  • Hey JS, when your owner, your GM, your manager and even your players refer to it as the greatest rivalry in sports, I think your opinion means very little.

    LocklandSF January 4, 2007, 12:09 pm
  • Don’t feed the trolls!
    Even if I agree with him ;)

    Lar January 4, 2007, 1:27 pm
  • Well, PastorSteve proved my point in definition number two to the word Rivalry:
    “a person or thing EQUAL to another in QUALITY”
    The Yanks and Sox aren’t equal in quality. Oh, and I don’t care what Steinbrenner or Cashman say about the “Rivalry”. They make money everytime a Yanks/Sox DVD is sold.

    JS January 4, 2007, 5:39 pm
  • Since 2003, when the rivalry was reborn, their regular-season records against each other are equal, and each has taken a League Championship Series from the other in seven games.
    So, JS, quit spouting old news and find another soapbox.

    Paul SF January 4, 2007, 5:50 pm
  • JS:
    If it’s not a rivalry to you, then you should have no reason to post here. If flamewars are what you are after, we’d rather you do it somewhere else.
    And I imagine I speak for both the YFs and SFs who regularly visit our site.

    SF January 4, 2007, 6:04 pm
  • “Since 2003, when the rivalry was reborn, their regular-season records against each other are equal, and each has taken a League Championship Series from the other in seven games.”
    Yep, I knew that some sox fan would cherry pick the last 4 years, which are, of course, the only years that count”! Don’t forget that since 2003, the Yanks have 4 division crowns to none for the sox. You guys are so predictable.
    I bet that back in 2001 the only year that counted for sox fans was 1918 or 1975. Anyway, I’m not flaming, I’m just pointing out that it’s not much of a rivalry. I love it!
    And no, I’m not a flamer, I like reading some of the Yanks news on here b/c there’s an interesting perspective that’s not on many sites. But, if I can’t offer an opinion, then it’s not much of a site.

    JS January 4, 2007, 8:25 pm
  • JS:
    If the first and only opinion you offer is basically that this site pays homage to something that to you is a sham, then your disdain for the site is clear. And then the opinions that you offer will be treated with proportionate respect. It would be a shame if you had intelligent opinions that were compromised by open mockery of the forum. You’re doing nothing but compromising your own credibility by treating this community with a kind of contempt.

    SF January 4, 2007, 8:38 pm
  • uh, first of all, i don’t use any alias on this site…i own any and every comment i make, so for any of you that think js is me, think again…having said that, i do think js is entitled to his/her opinion…i’ve made the same “cherry-picking” accusation myself, but not for some time, because it doesn’t need to be made…sf’s are right [in one respect] that you have to draw a line in the sand or we’ll spend our lifetimes with nothing to debate…i’ll be dead by the time the sox catch up to the yanks in terms of overall championships…but while the history should never be declared irrelevant, it is important to discuss “eras”, and we are in one where the sox have caught up, maybe not in division titles, but in terms of competitiveness, and yes world series in the past 5 years or so…i tip my cap to the new sox management for at least putting in the effort and financing to compete, and having the success to show for it…and i tip my cap to the sf’s for having the passion to defend their team, and “giving it” to us yf’s when we stray out of bounds…let JS have his fun, just like sf’s like to rub it in about 04…believe it or not, it stimulates better and more liveley debate…

    dc January 4, 2007, 9:05 pm
  • Cherry picking — would that be like selecting the second dictionary definition over the first one?

    pastorsteve January 4, 2007, 9:23 pm
  • uh, first of all, i don’t use any alias on this site…i own any and every comment i make, so for any of you that think js is me, think again
    Uh, what?
    The bottom line is that JS took a thread that was about a really wonderful story which celebrated a fan’s life and used it to denigrate the idea that this site champions a “true” rivalry, which it inarguably does. I find that beyond rude. His motivation was to antagonize, not to offer some sort of intelligent opinion in the interest of thoughtful discourse.

    SF January 4, 2007, 9:24 pm
  • actually pastorsteve…yeah…isn’t that what you did?…
    sf, i’d have to agree that JS’ opinion may have been misplaced on this particular thread, but i think your rather vehement protest is more about the content of his opinion rather than where he chose to make it…you’ll get no argument from me that sox/yanks is a true rivalry [my definition is what counts to me]…yes he was probably trying to antagonize, again misplaced perhaps…i wish you had been as vehement about criticizing the name-callers who frequently attacked me…now that’s “beyond rude”, and “not in the interest of thoughtful discourse”…

    dc January 4, 2007, 9:40 pm
  • actually dc…no…that’s not at all what I did…
    I posted:
    rival (noun) 1 a person or thing competing with another for superiority or the same objective 2 a person or thing equal to another in quality
    As SF noted, the first definition stands in support of it being a rivalry. As I noted, that was my point — there’s more than one definition of a rivalry. And, in most dictionaries, the definition listed first is the one mostly commonly used.
    So, the most common definition of “rival” doesn’t require parity, only a competition toward a shared objective — guess I should have spelled that out in the first place (first-time poster, cut me some slack?).
    BTW, I didn’t have a big problem with the post from JS. If I had seen it as a flame I wouldn’t have responded. Also, dc, I appreciate your posts, even when I don’t agree.

    pastorsteve January 5, 2007, 9:05 am
  • I will try to respond to everything that’s been said about me and my opinions:
    1. I have posted here before on other topics, such as Matsuzaka, etc. I was attacked for disagreeing that the Sox “might” not win him, as everyone was assuming at that moment, and also attacked for suggesting that he “might” not be the reincarnation of Clemens, but could be the reincarnation of Clement instead.
    2. Why this thread to make commentary about the rivalry? Because the title of the article was “Age-old Rivalry”, that’s why! I don’t see how that’s “beyond rude”. Beyond rude would be if I posted some garbage about the nice old lady that just died. I wouldn’t and didn’t do that.
    3. Am I trying to antagonize? Maybe a little, but not really. It just bugs me that everyone thinks it’s such a great Rivalry, when the statistical evidence (and statistical evidence is “everything” these days isn’t it?) reveals otherwise.
    4. Did I cherry pick the #2 definition of rivalry? Damn right I did! Did Pastor Steve cherry pick the #1 definition of rivalry that doesn’t require rivals to be equal AND did Paul SF cherry pick the Sox head-to-head record against the Yanks from 2003 forward to argue that the teams are equal rivals? Damn right they both cherry picked! At the end of the day, both definitions are applicable when thinking of the concept of rivals or a rivalry.
    5. I reiterate that if the people here believe that a rivalry, FROM A PRACTICAL STANDPOINT, means hatred between opponents, then the Yanks Sox “rivalry” is “age-old” and is the greatest in history. I just think that’s a narrow view of the word rivalry and I prefer the more expansive use of the term where there is both hatred and equality.
    6. To those who questioned why I would visit this site, which is based on the concept of a rivalry, if I question whether the rivalry even exists (which also begs the question of why the site exists in the current format of equality between the two sides), I believe I have a satisfactory answer for you. I find an interesting perspective on the Yanks on this site, and sometimes I want to know what the Sox fans are saying about a particular Sox player or a particular Yankee player.
    In fact, to expand on the concept of the differing takes I’ve seen, I visited many sites where the Yankee bloggers were preaching hesitance in over-bidding for Matsuzaka and an outright resistance in assuming that he’d be a #1 or #2 starter in pinstripes. In fact, many Yankee bloggers predicted that he’d be a #3 or #4 starter in pinstripes. But, most of the Sox opinions on this site for his future are much more optimistic with him playing in Fenway. I don’t know if that’s because there’s a genuine difference in the optimism of Yankee fans or Sox fans or it it’s because the Yanks fans’ opinions were pre-bidding and the Sox fans’ opinions were post-bidding, but I’m highly interested in the differences.
    7. Lastly, I will say that for THIS MOMENT there IS a rivalry between the Yanks and the Red Sox, specifically because of the last 5 years. But, the Yanks and the Royals also had a heated rivalry from 1975-1980 too, but don’t anymore. The Yanks and the O’s also had a rivaly from 1996-1998, but don’t anymore. And I’m sure that someone will point out that the Yanks Sox rivalry from 1973-1978 was outstanding, but then went through a long period where only one of the teams was good at any given time (roughly from 1979 to 2001) with a few exceptions where they were BOTH competitive (1986, 1995 and 1999 being the notable exceptions, maybe there’s a couple of other years).
    I don’t see what’s wrong in questioning whether the rivalry exists over a longer stretch of time. And, I’m happy to remind my Sox friends that the rivalry certainly “ain’t equal” and it never will be!

    JS January 5, 2007, 5:45 pm
  • Oh, one more thing. It makes me SO happy that the Sox fans want to rely on the definition of “rivals” that does NOT require parity because that’s simply a tacit admission that the Sox are not equal to or as good as the Yankees.

    JS January 5, 2007, 5:55 pm
  • JS:
    For a long time I wondered why YFs hated the Sox so much, why there was a “rivalry” at all – what you say is true, that the Yankees have a long history of beating the snot out of the Sox. But there IS one. Despite this long history of beating the snot out of the Sox, most Yankees fans I know still look upon the matchup with great anticipation, and express utter joy when the Yankees beat the Sox. Even pre-2004, Yankees fans have paid mind to this matchup and winning it. It goes back decades. That would seem to me to be evidence of a rivalry, that both sets of fans engage the matchup no matter the historically one-sided results.
    So I still don’t really understand why you continue to insist that there’s no such rivalry. And because you have reiterated this fact, I still believe that you treat about half of those at this site with a kind of disdain, and it’s frankly off-putting.
    By the most commonly accepted definition of the word “rivalry” (and you have every right to be an iconoclast, you won’t be censored) this is one of the greatest. It’s too bad you insist that it’s non-existent.

    SF January 5, 2007, 6:28 pm
  • at the risk of repeating most of my earlier post, i agree with pastorsteve and sf that this is indeed a rivalry, regardless of the formal dictionary definition…the “age old” rivaly began when boston traded babe ruth to the yanks…that simple transaction marked the end of an era of sox dominance in mlb and the beginning of a yankee era of dominance…both teams have been up and down since, but both teams were competitive more often than not, with hall of famers on both sides, and the games between the 2 teams always seemed a bit more exciting, maybe because of the ruth factor, or the joe d / ted w matchup, clemens coming to the yanks, i don’t know… arguing whether the teams are “equal” is futile, because they’re not equal in any given year…it is not cherry-picking to put some recent perspective on the competitiveness debate, especially given the sox have changed ownership and team management within the past few years…this new group has taken an entirely new and arguably effective approach to making their team competitive…i for one yf am glad that they are serious about giving the yanks a run for their money…it makes for better baseball and better discussion…sf, count me among those yf’s who don’t hate the sox or sox fans…

    dc January 5, 2007, 6:54 pm
  • You’re right that I do hold most sox fans with disdain because despite the fact that the Yanks have whipped up on their team for years, I find them more obnoxious than other fans. Instead of just accepting their place behind the Yanks most Sox fans want to believe that the teams ARE equal, and I find that annoying.

    JS January 5, 2007, 8:06 pm
  • js- i couldn’t agree with you more. i try not to associate with people outside my race either. they should know they’re dumber.
    dc- for as much as i detested your posts when you first showed up around here, i’ve found myself enjoying them of late. somewhere along the line you’ve reached this even keeled enlightenment that makes your posts thought provoking. you’re no ag, but you’re a yf i look forward to reading. so thanks.

    sf rod January 5, 2007, 9:59 pm
  • thanks rod, i am trying to put more thought into my posts and being a little less reactionary in responding, so i appreciate the recognition of that effort…frankly, i detested some of my earlier posts too…and yes, there is only one ag….

    dc January 5, 2007, 10:37 pm
  • Much like I find many Yanks’ fans arrogance and sense of entitlement annoying. Thanks, JS, for exhibiting those so perfectly.
    Incidentally, choosing the first definition out of a dictionary is not cherry-picking — it’s choosing the definition the dictionary’s editors have determined to be the most commonly used. Why, JS, are you so dogmatic about your position when it is based on a more obscure definition of the very word in question?
    Likewise, choosing the date not only of the takeover of the new Sox ownership but also the period of time in which interest by both teams’ fans in the rivalry was rekindled, thaks in large part to the 2003 ALCS, is not “cherry-picking.” It’s a definitive period of time, begun at a specific point — and a logical point, at that. The cherry-picking accusation has been used far too commonly on this blog for the citation of data that are clearly not cherry picked at all. One might say that critics who use that phrase are cherry-picking the various components of its definition to suit their interests in debunking the data without having to actually address the merits of the argument.

    Paul SF January 5, 2007, 10:51 pm
  • Well said, Paul SF!

    pastorsteve January 6, 2007, 8:37 am
  • “js- i couldn’t agree with you more. i try not to associate with people outside my race either. they should know they’re dumber.”
    Yeah right, that’s REALLY what I said. If you’re going to twist comments into something that could not reasonably construed from the original meaning, then you’re simply not logical and not worth addressing any further.
    In addition, as for Paul SF who wrote that looking at the Yanks-Sox competition from “2003 ALCS [forward], is not “cherry-picking. It’s a definitive period of time, begun at a specific point — and a logical point, at that”, I would just say that looking at the Yanks-Sox competition from 1919 to the present is just as definitive and logical.
    And, I’ll add that even if we look at 2003 to the present alone and every other year suddenly “doesn’t count”, then we’re still talking 4 division titles for the Yanks to 0 and a rule change making the Sox 2004 championship happen.
    Finally, to Pastorsteve, who repeatedly insists that ONLY the first dictionary definition be used because it’s listed number 1 in his dictionary, I have two responses. First, I noticed that prior to 2004 commentators had been questioning whether a rivalry really existed when it was one-sided. I doubt that one season of reversal changes everything. Second, and more importantly, if ONLY the first definition is applicable, then why do they even have a second and alternative definition? I mean, if the second definition never applies then why even have that definition in the dictionary?
    I’ll tell you why, because there are some rivalries that meet both criteria: the teams are competing for the same prize and they’re equal too.
    Frankly, the better rivalry (Duke/Carolina) is one where BOTH definitions can apply, not just one.

    JS January 8, 2007, 1:50 pm
  • As I noted, that was my point — there’s more than one definition of a rivalry. And, in most dictionaries, the definition listed first is the one mostly commonly used.
    So, the most common definition of “rival” doesn’t require parity, only a competition toward a shared objective — guess I should have spelled that out in the first place (first-time poster, cut me some slack?).

    This is what Pastorsteve wrote. And you state that he “repeatedly insists that ONLY the first dictionary definition be used”.
    You write eloquently, and it’s clear you’ve put thought into what you’ve written. But where do you get off misrepresenting what someone else posted as fact? It’s dangerous: it doesn’t take much effort to fact-check. So we’re supposed to believe that you post here for reasons other than just getting into fights? Seriously?

    SF January 8, 2007, 1:57 pm
  • SF, I appreciate your compliment regarding my writing style. Maybe y’all can use another YF voice around these parts.
    But, I strongly disagree with you on the fact checking issue. Pastor Steve acknowledged that there are two dictionary definitions, but he repeately advances his belief that: (1) the first definition is the one that is most commonly used; and (2) that the first definition is the one that is more applicable in this situation. (I think that’s because the second definition can’t be used).
    However, I don’t believe that I’m taking anything out of context by interpreting PastorSteve’s comments to suggest that he’s saying that only the first definition ought to be used as applied to the facts. In fact, in the quote that you relied on, even he wrote that he should have been more clear in pointing out that “the most common definition of ‘rival’ doesn’t require parity, only a competition toward a shared objective”.
    I believe that I drew a fair inference from what Pastorsteve wrote. Frankly, if you’re going to accuse someone of making a misrepresentation, I think you have to be right. It’s not enough to be kind of right, sort of right, or even a little right. Now, you may quibble with me on the inference that I drew, but to say that my interpretation was an out and out misrepresentation, is itself a misrepresentation.

    JS January 9, 2007, 12:02 pm
  • JS,
    We definitely can use another YF voice around here, but you’re barking up the wrong tree with this particular issue. The rivalry is the reason the vast majority of us are here. While you make an interesting and technically correct argument, IMO it just doesn’t hold up in the court of common sense.I think “agreeing to disagree” is the proper end for this dicussion – I can only see it unraveling from here, to the detriment of all.

    Andrews January 9, 2007, 1:52 pm

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