If you wear a tie and ask questions, such as how to spell a name, the gentle folk at Yankee Stadium for the World Series may ask you a question. "You a cop?" Peter Raccaro said, stopping after R-a-c.
Raccaro, 24, a linebacker type with a mustache, is a laid-off schoolteacher tending bar in New Haven, Conn. He wore a Yankee cap. A minute earlier, he had stood near the right field wall and shouted at Reggie Jackson, "Hey, Reggie, you take a good punch!"
Now Raccaro moved his beer to his left hand. With his right, he frisked the guy in the tie. Then he leaped onto a seat. "No piece! No cop! Go back to what you were doing!" he cried, in a voice that frightened tugboat captains on the East River.
It's trendy to say that customers at Yankee Stadium are on loan from the Bronx Zoo. During playoffs here, a fan was propelled by idolatry and a six-pack to tackle an umpire. Someone set off Roman candles. A baseball, a golf ball and handfuls of coins flew onto the field.
Tonight's sociological expedition, designed to answer the question, "Would these people burn down an orphanage?" began behind home plate, near the $20 seats where men wore camel's hair overcoats and women competed for frizziest perm. George Falkowski, 21, had a sign saying, "The Los Angeles CRY-BABIES Are Back."
The Dodgers lost the Series here in 1978. Such whining you never heard. The infielders didn't like the infield. They spoke of the customers as if these gentle folk were Bellevue patients on a field trip. Davey Lopes said the way to improve this place would be to drop a very large bomb on it.
"So my sign is some good-natured ribbing," Falkowski said.
Might it be inflammatory?
"Oh, no," Falkowski said. "Of 60,000 people here tonight, there'll only be a few idiots who come boozed or drugged up and ruin it for the rest of us. Like that guy who tackled the umpire -- if he goes to jail for 20 years, that isn't long enough."
The idiots, Falkowski said, are out there in the bleacher seats, out beyond the outfield walls.
To get there, you walk past the Yankee Gift Shop, where among 48 items is the $19.75 certified Yankee hair dryer. Past the cops checking carry-bags for bottles of booze. Past Harry Walden, a beer vendor wearing a button that says, "I do not sell beer to minors or to intoxicated people."
Harry's sobriety test is simple. "If they can't get their money out," he said, "I don't sell 'em beer."
Here in the right field bleachers, where he comes for every Wednesday and Sunday game in his Yankee jacket and Yankee cap, Hector Montalvo says he doesn't know anybody in the cheap seats who would defoliate Central Park, let alone throw a baseball onto the field.
"We're good baseball fans," said Montalvo, the leader of the Bleacher Brigade. "We ourselves don't throw things at players. We're here to enjoy baseball."
Montalvo, 24, combines his love of baseball with his love of cats. A button on his Yankee cap says he is in the Morris the Cat Fan Club. He carries a stuffed cat named Garfield, who wears a tiny Yankee cap. Montalvo draws a comic strip of Yankee goings-on, and all the characters are cats.
"Want to see what I've got in my duffel bag?" Montalvo asks, while trying to complete a Rubik's cube in three minutes.
After finishing with the cube, Montalvo brought a miniature trombone out of the bag.
"Dooo-do-doo-dooooo," the trombone groaned under Montalvo's cheery assault. "Chargggge!" the cat lover said.
Moving to safety, the guy in a tie heard what sounded like a wrecking ball crash into the stadium. It was only Raccaro, screaming, "REGGIEEEEE!"
"I'm in my glory," Raccaro said, after offering the noncop a shot of Canadian Club hidden under his sweat shirt. "I'm from New Haven, where half the people are Red Sox fans and half are Yankee fans. For like 12 years, I had to suffer with that Red Sox bullfeathers. Now I'm on top."
Raccaro said he is so dedicated, he has dumped girlfriends who were slow to adopt the Yankees.
He brought his grade school class here once. "The greatest thing those kids would ever experience," he called the field trip.
"You taking this down?" Raccaro said, looking at the notepad. "I'm going to buy a paper and this better be in it. This is it: the Yankees are America's Team. It ain't the Dallas Cowboys. You go to Green Bay, you go to Seattle. You don't see Cowboys' uniforms, but you see Yankee caps. We're the best."
The Yankees may be the best, but not many would say that about the fans.
The New York Police Department assigned 175 men to patrol the environs of Yankee Stadium tonight.
Stadium security, which controls events inside the park, wouldn't say how many men it had on the job, but it looked as if they might be busy. As Dodger left fielder Dusty Baker moved to catch a fly ball in the first inning tonight, a bottle came flying out of the bleachers and landed on the outfield turf.