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enemy territory

At This Time Tomorrow, This Yankee Fan Will Be at Fenway Park for the First Time

Tomorrow, for the very first time, we will be attending a baseball game at Fenway Park. It is no coincidence that the New York Yankees are the visiting team for this game. We are excited, and just a little scared.

We started thinking about venturing into enemy territory a few years ago. Sure, we'd seen the Yankees play on the road before, but games at Shea Stadium don't really count, and ones in Baltimore — where the Yankee fans always seem to outnumber the Oriole fans — count even less. Plus, Fenway Park looks like a wonderful place to watch a baseball game. (We'll deny saying this, by the way, after squeezing into a seat designed for someone born a full century ago.)

Two years ago, we attended a Rangers game in Philadelphia, another city known for its, um, enthusiastic fans. Even then, we considered it a baby step toward an eventual visit to Fenway, where we fully expect to be showered with unspeakable insults (and hopefully nothing else). But other than a few juvenile insults about Chris Drury that were directed our way, we came away unscathed. Then, last year, we thought we were upping the ante by attending a Rangers game in Boston — surely they just hate all New York sports teams! — but we heard nary a word from a Bostonian about their sort-of rivals from New York. (One particularly drunk fellow did shoot us the crazy eyes, but couldn't summon up a single word in his condition.)

Which brings us to tomorrow. We're preparing for the worst, just in case. After all, this is the city, and the rivalry, that brought us the "Jeter Has AIDS" T-shirt. (We've also seen the response Sox fans get in the Bronx, and it isn't always pretty.) We've even planned our wardrobe, making the conscious decision to leave our Mariano Rivera jersey at home, lest it be splattered with red paint like a mink coat at a PETA rally. We'll instead sport something more easily replaceable.

We consulted with one of our office's Red Sox fans — the fact that they're all pleasant, hygienic folks gives us hope that maybe the members of Red Sox Nation we encounter won't actually be belligerent, funny-accented maniacs who relish the opportunity to torture us all afternoon for wearing the interlocking N-Y inside their ballpark — and he told us that as long as we're not obnoxious, we should avoid trouble. Which is good: We can live with the heckling; we just don't want to get hit in the back of the head with a half-full beer bottle. He did warn us, though, that if the Yankees jump out to a big lead, all bets are off. So, go Yankees ... just keep it close, for our sake. We'll have a full report Monday.

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Photo: Michael Heiman/Getty Images