Photo of David Ortiz walking up to the plate versus the New York Yankees.

Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila (CC BY 2.0)

What would you say is the most intense rivalry in all of sports? Ohio State and Michigan in college football? Duke and North Carolina in college basketball? The Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics in professional basketball? None of those. Real sports fans know that the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox rivalry is unparalleled to any rivalry in any sport.

Perhaps the largest factor in fueling the hatred between these two franchises is that they have met so many times when the season is on the line. The two teams have met 19 times in the post season, with the Yankees victorious in 11 of those meetings. The two have also met in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) three times in 1999, 2003 and 2004. Other factors?

 

A Rivalry Among Cities

Long before wars were fought on the baseball diamond, Boston was widely considered as the economic and cultural power of the United States. New York, on the other hand, was seen as a developing and dirty city because of overcrowding. However, New York City's population began to prosper with the flourishing of thousands of businesses and factories in addition to the construction of the Erie Canal. New York City's wealth and population dwarfs that of Boston's though Boston still remains as one of the top 10 biggest cities in the United States.

The Curse of the Bambino

Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee had purchased the team for $500k in 1916 and on credit. When 1919 rolled around, Frazee was in desperate need of money to finance musicals (he was a Broadway producer) and to help pay for the looming debt from purchasing the Boston Red Sox. He in turn, sold several players, one of those being Babe Ruth aka 'The Great Bambino'. Subsequently, Frazee continued to send more and more players to the Yankees in later years, including their own manager Ed Barrow. These actions propelled the Yankees into a baseball powerhouse and sent the Red Sox into the baseball cellar. During the time span of 1920-2003, the Yankees had accumulated 26 World Series to the Red Sox' 0. Many years later, future Hall of Famers such as Roger Clemens, Jonny Damon, David Wells and Wade Boggs went on to play for both the Yankees and the Red Sox, which would also elevate the bitterness between both clubs.

American League East Rivals

Consisting of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, one could have a strong case in arguing that the American League East is the toughest and most competitive division in all of Major League Baseball. Facing each other often year in and year out, a division opponent is a rival almost inevitably (Chicago Cubs - St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets - Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers - San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs - Milwaukee Brewers). The Yankees-Red Sox games during the regular season are often granted the prime time slots including Wednesday and Sunday night games on ESPN.  

'Four Days in October'

Who could forget the 2004 ALCS between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox? Trailing the Yankees 3 games to 0 in a best of 7 series, the Red Sox rallied to win four consecutive games to advance to the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox would eventually win the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals and break the 'Curse of the Bambino' in a manner that not even Hollywood could script. No team in Major League Baseball history had ever rallied to win the series after being down 3-0.

 

The history of this rivalry will only continue to grow and become richer. So whether it's at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium, Major League Baseball fans are in for a treat when these two teams meet.

 

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