Orioles: To save a family torn by the strife of the pennant chase, The Fan must put a Yankees-loving hubby in his place. Second, that is.

THE BETTER HALF

September 11, 1997

The Fan's work is never done.

With Madeleine Albright tied up in the Middle East and Richard Holbrooke busy with Bosnia, The Fan was dispatched to the remaining global hot spot: the Greenspring Valley home of Stanley and Linda Nachimson.

It was quiet, too quiet. Was The Fan too late? Had one of the warring factions finally been silenced?

No, it was merely a momentary ceasefire -- the interlude between the Orioles-Yankees series in New York and the upcoming rematch beginning today in Baltimore.

The Fan had prepared for the mission by studying their dossiers. Linda Nachimson, 43, is a lifelong Baltimorean and the kind of Orioles fan who remembers, fondly, getting hit by a Rick Dempsey foul ball. Her husband Stanley, 45, is from Paterson, N.J., and a Yankees fan back to the days of Mickey and Whitey. After college in Pittsburgh, he settled in Orioles territory and works at the federal Health Care Financing Administration in Woodlawn.

They met about 17 years ago, when Linda was also working at HCFA. Baseball didn't come up until too late -- they had already fallen for one another. They blithely entered the abyss of a mixed marriage, little realizing the issues ahead: Would their children be raised as fans of the Orioles or the Yankees? Would their respective in-laws ever be able to accept someone from such a foreign culture? Is everything really fair in love and baseball?

It's always hardest for the children. Daughter Mary, 9, seems like a happy O's fan, but says her mother forced her choice. Son Evan, 3, suffering the stresses of his parents' rivalry, is in denial. He says he hates both the O's and the Yankees, but the Yankees a little more.

The Fan obviously had her work cut out for her. An intervention was in order.

Here is a transcript of The Fan's session with the Nachimsons.

Stanley: Last year was really special. But, for years I stayed a Yankee fan, during the lean years when they would lose all the time.

Daughter Mary: Hahahahaha. The Yankees are utterly disgusting. Vomitrocious.

Linda: Last year was so awful. [Stanley] gloated the entire time. I was so angry, I think it was after Jeffrey Maier, I wrote on his undershirts, "Yankees [word Mary shouldn't hear]." I used indelible ink. I had to get my revenge. I had it with him. I had to do something. I was crazed.

The Fan: It's not your fault, Linda. Maybe if Stanley would do his own laundry, unfortunate incidents like that could be avoided.

Stanley: I have to put up with a lot of abuse ...

The Fan: Stanley, please don't interrupt. Let Linda continue.

Linda: Once or twice over the years, he rooted for the Orioles because it would benefit the Yankees, and that bothered me even more. Oh, and tell her what you did to my nephew Mike.

Stanley: We were watching the Yankees and Braves in the World Series, and Atlanta got a hit, and Mike went, "Yeah!" I said, "Mike, shut up and get out of here." I get emotionally involved in the games. There's some passion there.

Linda: I had to apologize for him, and told Mike he could go back in and watch the game but he was too scared. Stanley's pretty obnoxious about this. When we go to the stadium, he roots against the Orioles. People throw popcorn at us, even though I'm rooting for the Orioles. Once, though, the Oriole bird got him. He took his hat and started to eat it, and then smacked him on the head with it. Then he got out the silly string, but we all got covered with it.

Stanley: We're still the world champions.

The Fan: Stanley, you should learn not to live in the past. And again, you need to work on your listening skills. It can't always be about Stanley.

Linda: We can't even watch games in the same room. I'm upstairs and he's downstairs. We'll sometimes start watching an Orioles game together, but in about three minutes, he'll go, "I can't stand this team!" and storm out. We try to get tickets for Yankees games at Camden Yards sometimes. We have tickets for [tonight], I'm sending Mary with him. It's too stressful for me to go with him. I can't enjoy the game. I get too worked up.

The Fan: Even now? Surely Stanley has come to the realization that the Yankees are never going to catch the Orioles this year.

Stanley: The Orioles haven't clinched the pennant yet. The Yankees aren't mathematically eliminated.

The Fan: Stanley, Stanley. "Fan" isn't short for "fantasy." Linda, you're obviously the grown-up in this marriage. It must be such a burden for you.

Linda: During the playoffs last year, we were at a restaurant, and these Towson State students saw him and said, "Is he a Yankees fan? What's the matter with him?" And me, of all people, I stuck up for him. I said to them, he can be a Yankee fan if he wants. If you put me in Outer Mongolia, I'd still be an Orioles fan.

Stanley: We agree on the important things -- religion, raising kids.

Linda: We have a really good marriage, in the off-season.

The Fan: The off-season will be here soon enough -- sooner for Stanley, of course.

Buckle up

Yesterday was the Orioles' and their fans' last day off for the rest of the season -- are you ready for the final stretch? And is anyone out there as baseball-crazed as The Fan and going to the five games in three days that start Sunday? To leave a message for The Fan, call Sundial, 410-783- 1800, and enter the code 6180.

Pub Date: 9/11/97

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