Puerto Ricans are born with stripes.

It was in 2016 in San Juan Puerto Rico. My wife and I make the first decision for our unborn child in Build-A-Bear Workshop. You see, my wife was pregnant with our first child. It was a boy! We just found out that day and we both decided to “build” a teddy bear in the corniest store in Plaza de la Americas. We chose a traditional beige teddy bear and I even recorded a message for my son to hear when he nudges the bear’s paw. When it came time to dress him in the most expensive and smallest baseball jersey, we had three options; New York Yankees, New York Mets or Boston Red Sox. It was a pretty easy decision. The boy will be Puerto Rican; he cannot escape his inheritance. So we grabbed the team that has represented our people for generations. The teddy bear left the store wearing stripes with a navy “NY” logo on the left side of the chest.

First, you need to know a little history.

Following the signing of Treaty of Paris in 1898, which officially ended the Spanish–American War, Spain agreed to cede control of Puerto Rico to the United States. As a result, the island became a US territory.

In 1917, Puerto Ricans were automatically granted citizenship in the United States upon birth; however, disqualified from voting in presidential elections held in the United States unless they reside in the continent. As a result, on several occasions, the citizens of the island went to the polls to decide whether they wanted to continue to be a Commonwealth, whether they wanted to seek an official state, or whether they wanted to become an independent nation. Unfortunately, the United States Congress never reviewed the results of the vote.

Thus, Puerto Ricans are American citizens who do not have the right to vote for an administration that will make decisions for them.

Puerto Ricans in New York.

The global economic crisis that began in the 1930s and continued into World War II had a significant impact on Puerto Rico, as it did on the rest of the world. After the war, to help modernize Puerto Rico’s economy, the United States created a program called “Operation Bootstrap”. The New Deal of the 1930s largely inspired this program. The concept was to move away from a sugar-based economy and towards manufacturing. Which ultimately was a devastation to the island’s economy.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, factories in the northeastern United States began to actively seek workers from Puerto Rico. Because fewer jobs were available in Puerto Rico and airfare was cheaper, thousands of people left the island in search of employment in the United States. As a result, most of the people who participated in the Great Migration arrived in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Puerto Ricans primarily settled in New York City, particularly Spanish Harlem, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and the South Bronx .

Fun fact: There are currently more people of Puerto Rican descent living in the continental United States than there are on the island of Puerto Rico itself.

“They are the biggest fans.” – Sonia Sotomayor (US Supreme Court Justice and Bronx native) on Yankees fans.

New York Yankees in Puerto Rico.

During the 1980s and 1990s, many Puerto Ricans returned to the island. The economy was doing better and more jobs were available in hot Puerto Rico. Many left New York because they were tired of the cold (so my great-uncle told me), while others returned chanting “En mi Viejo San Juan” after drinking too much. on a cold Bronx night. Well, they brought their diehard Yankees fandom to the island.

Here’s the thing. Generation X and Generation Y have family members who live in or come from New York; or even a second cousin who is a “Nuyorican”. So everyone in Puerto Rico has been exposed to the Yankees at least once in their life growing up. Not only that, but in the 90s, the Yankees were pretty good. The victory brought a new feeling to all Puerto Ricans on the island. Additionally, we were represented in the existing team with Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada.

Many Puerto Ricans like me have never set foot in New York, but our fandom for the Bronx suicide bombers goes beyond any other. Baseball is Puerto Rico’s pastime; while boxing comes next, baseball is what our grandparents’ parents listen to on the radio by a window in the Puerto Rican heat. As a result, the Yankees became attached to our culture. Many, again like me, wish to go to Yankee Stadium at least once in their life. Just imagining it gives me chills.

My wife is not a big baseball fan. But, she was exposed to the Yankees by her dear great-aunt. The shy old lady swore on the radio when the Yanks were down. She never saw them in the Bronx. But, his older brother did. Sadly, he would never return or even leave Yankee Stadium alive. He had a heart attack of excitement when he first saw the diamond. My wife saw the little item her great-aunt had been holding since the 1950s.

Giancarlo Stanton paid tribute to his mother’s Puerto Rican roots on Roberto Clemente Day. On the back of his Yankees jersey, the slugger proudly wore Great One No. 21.

It was easy to support the New York Yankees if you were a Puerto Rican living in the Bronx. Especially in the south, where East 161st Street & River Avenue were nearby. The team was the positive result of living in one of New York’s worst neighborhoods. The South Bronx was two-thirds African American or Hispanic in the 1950s. This part of the New York borough fostered segregation in one of the darkest periods in our country’s history. What made the Yankees powerful for our community was that they united us. He joined Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans and African Americans in the exact cause, and ultimately this alliance left our nation with new creations, like Hip Hop and graffiti art. Even the team name goes hand in hand with the fact that even those who felt isolated and ignored could call the United States home. The Bronx Bombers represent the Bronx exactly, representing the community that will still wear a Roberto Clemente’s 21 to this day with a navy blue hat with that old white “NY” logo.

So why am I the “evil empire”? Because he represents me. It brings back happy and sad memories. It brings Puerto Rico to life; my house, the beach, the breeze, the people and the music. Like that teddy bear my son always has, we will continue to wear pinstripes because it represents who we are.

I once heard this sentence in the town where I grew up in Puerto Rico: “Todos somos Yankees here. Si no te gusta el equipo es porque no te gusta la pelota muchacho.

(“We’re all Yankees here. If you don’t like the team it’s because you don’t like baseball man“)

Edward K. Thompson