Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor Roots for her Favorite Team at Yankee Stadium
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, August 5- A very large mid-week matinee crowd of 44,593 were at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday and saw a one-sided 11-3 Yankee victory over the Baltimore Orioles. One of the dedicated Yankees aficionados in the ballpark was Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
The distinguished jurist returned to her place of birth to witness an event she loves, a Yankees game. The Bronx native of Puerto Rican ancestry has been a baseball, specifically New York Yankees, fan since her childhood. Her father, Juan, hails from Santurce and her mother, Celina, is from Lajas, in Southeast Puerto Rico. The youngster lived in the Bronxdale Houses in Soundview and later in Co-op City as a youngster. She attended Cardinal Spellman High School in the borough and later graduated with honors from Princeton University, the NYU School of Law and Columbia University Law School.
Interestingly, in a time of bitter partisanship between the major political parties in the United States, Sotomayor’s credentials led to her being appointed to the bench by presidents from both parties. She was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by George H. W. Bush in 1991. Six years later, Bill Clinton selected her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She reached the height of her profession in 2009 when Barack Obama nominated her to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Her visit on Wednesday was neither her first time in the current Yankee Stadium nor her first time at a Yankees game. Sotomayor threw out the ceremonial first pitch before a Yankees game on September 26, 2009 and she spoke humbly and emotionally as the graduation speaker at the NYU Commencement in May of 2012. On Wednesday, her presence was not political nor to gain attention. She wanted to watch and root for her favorite sports team.
In an informal meeting with reporters during the game, she stated, “Having sat in the old stadium bleachers anonymously, there is quite a chord that gets touched when you come back on a day like today and people are screaming out ‘Justice’ or ‘Sonia’ and it brings a little bit of a tear to my eye.”
Of her feeling at being in Yankee Stadium, she emotionally stated, “The spirit of the Yankees is still in the house. It’s very moving to me and important to me that the comfort they gave me most of my life-watching [them] win-continues.”
Before the game began, she joined the “bleacher creatures” in the roll call of the Yankees starters. Of the group of fans she sat with, she remarked, “I pay homage to the bleacher creatures; they are the greatest fans…To sit in sweltering heat when the sun is blazing, to sit out there in the rain, to sit out there on days when we’re losing and not to take it out on the players takes heart…I felt proud to be out there with them”
When asked why she came to the game, she replied, “I went to watch the Yankees play the [Washington] Nationals in Washington, DC and they won and [Media Relations Director] Jason [Zilo] asked me to come and sit in the bleachers.”
She spoke of her greatest Yankee memory, “The Bucky Dent home run against Boston. I was in law school and made a bet with my best friends.”
Asked if she was the only Yankees fan on the Supreme Court, she responded, “Justice [Anton] Scalia is fond of reminding me that he was the first Yankees fan on the Court…I keep telling him the only difference is that I was born in the Bronx and he wasn’t.’” Although the two justices are divided on judicial principles and philosophy, the two are united in support of the Yankees.
Her tribute to the fans of her favorite club is as follows, “We have the best fans in the world; they are so knowledgeable.”
In 1995, a Sotomayor ruling had a very important impact upon the sport of baseball. The baseball strike of 232 days ended after she issued an injunction that prohibited MLB from unilaterally implementing a new collective bargaining agreement using replacement players.
She still remains loyal to the sport of baseball, to her favorite team, the Yankees, and to her birthplace, the Bronx.