Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, said Pittsfield native Dick Del Gallo, are much nicer than those who root, root, root for the Boston Red Sox.
"Certainly not as mean-spirited," agreed lifelong St. Louis fan, Brent Ashby, 36, the guest services manager at the Berkshire Museum. "I think the fans of both teams are equally passionate, but Boston fans tend to be a bit more quick-tempered."
East Coast fans in general, Ashby added, are a different kind of cat.
"I wore my Cardinals' cap to a game in Philadelphia and got booed," he said. "And the Phillies weren't even playing the Cardinals; they were playing the Houston Astros."
Del Gallo agreed that Midwest fans can be a little soft.
"You hear sometimes that the rivalry between the Chicago Cubs and Cardinals is second in baseball only to the rivalry that is the New York Yankees and Red Sox," he said. "But I don't think it's even close. Cardinal and Cub fans sit next together [at Busch Stadium] in St. Louis and buy each other beer."
The two fans weighed in this week on the game that they love, each experiencing the Red Sox-Cardinals World Series far afield from their native turf.
Ashby is a native of Memphis, Tenn., where the Cardinals operate their Triple A franchise; he has lived in the Berkshires since 2005.
Del Gallo, now retired from General Electric, attended Notre Dame after graduating from Pittsfield High School in 1966. The company shuttled him around for a number of years, but he's spent the past 17 years in St. Charles, Mo., a nearby suburb of St. Louis.
"You don't see any ‘Cubs Suck' T-shirts in St. Louis," Del Gallo said. "I still go to Fenway Park in Boston every year and I guarantee I'll see a ‘Yankees Suck' shirt." And that is irksome to Del Gallo who, in the interest of full disclosure, grew up and remains a big-time fan of the New York Yankees.
"When the Red Sox swept the Cardinals in the Series in 2004," said Del Gallo, "I was at Game 3 here in St. Louis. There were Boston fans in the crowd and many of them were surprised at how polite St. Louis fans were. Of course, they were dealing with a lot of angst. They hadn't won the Series since 1918."
Ashby, who spent two years working for the Memphis Redbirds, vacationed in Pittsfield in 2004, when he met his fiancée. He has lived locally since 2005, and said that he was told by family members early in life that he would be a Cardinals fan. It was, he added, a mandate. Ashby said he's amped up his own passions as a fan simply by being around and living within such a baseball-crazy part of the country.
"Oh yeah, you can go anywhere in the area and talk baseball," he said.
St. Louis football fans have the Rams and hockey followers can watch the Blues. But it's baseball, said Del Gallo, that "dominates the scene."
The former PHS baseball standout can understand that kind of passion. He was the starting left-fielder for the 1966 Generals team that won the state championship under coach Buddy Pellerin. His family were season ticket holders for the Pittsfield Red Sox Double A team that won the Eastern League championship in 1965, and like many in New England, followed the exploits of the 1967 Impossible Dream season of the Boston Red Sox, which lost the World Series to St. Louis in seven games.
"A great three-year stretch," Del Gallo admitted.
If the Del Gallo name sounds familiar, it should. His uncle, Remo, is the former mayor of the city and the owner of Del Gallo's restaurant on Newell Street. Another uncle, Joe, used to run the Fenn and Fourth tavern (now Cim's).
Del Gallo, in fact, lived for the first decade of his life in an apartment above the barbershop that used to do business next to the Fenn and Fourth. His brother, he said, was a Red Sox fan, but he grew up into a household of Yankees' fans. It was, he said, an Italian thing.
"The Yankees had DiMaggio, Rizzuto, Berra," Del Gallo said. "Plus, they always won."
Both the Red Sox and Cardinals have each won two World Series championships in the 2000s. That fact, Ashby said, lends a new dimension to the Boston-St. Louis rivalry that maybe wasn't there in 2004, when Boston swept St. Louis in the World Series to reverse the "Curse of the Babe."
"I watched Game 3 at the Old Forge restaurant [in Lanesborough]," Ashby said about the ‘04 Fall Classic. "People were feeling sorry for me and buying me drinks that night. But we've each won a couple since then, and while I was a little sympathetic toward Boston fans back then, I'm not feeling that way right now."
So, yes, one team will soon covet a third title in the past decade. And being true to his Yankee pinstripes, Del Gallo is rooting for St. Louis to defeat the rival Red Sox.
But it's not about any loyalty to the home team.
"I have never felt any tug toward St. Louis," Del Gallo said. "The Yankees and Red Sox are both visiting here next year in interleague play, and I'll be rooting for New York when they get here.
"But in the meantime," he added, "it's Red October."
Brian Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com.