When the Yankees returned to New York for Game 6 of the World Series, everyone seemed to predict the same things: Death. Destruction. Chaos in the Bronx.
The anticipation that had built as the Yankees swept three games from the Braves in Atlanta suddenly was only part of the drama as the teams prepared to play out the Series in venerable Yankee Stadium. Now there was also the unnerving specter of a New York-sized celebration. How bad would it get? Yankees players took to local TV to beg the fans to behave. Politicians threatened potential vandals with everything but the medieval rack. Police donned riot gear.
In recent years a disturbing trend had taken hold in championship cities, such as Detroit and Chicago. Victory parades were no longer enough; jubilant fans felt compelled to burn cars, break windows, bust heads, spoil the fun. And if the Vancouver Canucks' losing the Stanley Cup could trigger such insanity in British Columbia, how, by god, would New York react to a World Series triumph?
Here's how: After the ball settled into Charlie Hayes's glove for the final out, Sinatra poured out of the P.A. system and the Yankees crowd sang along: "I want to be a part of it...New York, New York." The fans hugged and kissed and exchanged high fives. They cried and laughed and kept on singing. The one fool who dashed onto the field was quickly apprehended and dragged off, like a helpless calf at a rodeo. Much of the crowd booed the trespasser, and the peaceful celebration proceeded without a hitch.
The victorious players trotted around the edge of the field, waving to the fans and soaking in the euphoria. Third baseman Wade Boggs jumped onto the back of a policeman's horse and galloped along the warning track. The NYPD had enough armed personnel on hand to conquer a good-sized Caribbean country, and the cops seemed as amazed as anyone at the controlled joy and elation that filled the stands and the city. Who would have thought that Yankees fans would show the world how to celebrate a championship? It was up to you, New York, and you did it right.