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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Pinch hitting: Ban Hofmann

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Pinch hitters on Feb 07, 2011 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

There were at least a half dozen guest post suggestions about what it’s like to follow the Yankees from a distance. All of them were terrific suggestions, but I decided to choose only one and went with today’s Pinch Hitter.

Ban Hofmann is a 23-year-old college senior in Germany. He’s studying business, and if nothing else, the Yankees have taught him the power of a brand: He knew the Yankees logo before he knew the game of baseball. For his guest post, Ban wrote about what it was like to discover the Yankees during a family trip to the United States, and what it’s been like to follow the team from a distance for more than a decade.

A man in pinstripes is holding a wooden stick in his hand. He looks awesome. His name is Chuck Knoblauch? That’s funny…. Knoblauch…. Knoblauch means garlic in German. Aaaaaaand, hey! That logo! You know you have seen that one before!

Who would have thought that this is the way my affection to the New York Yankees would begin?

It was October the 18th on the day after the first game of the 1998 World Series. Chuck Knoblauch was on the front cover of the USA Today. I had just turned 11 years old and was on my first trip to the States – visiting the beautiful state of California with my dad and my sister.

Needless to say, I had no chance understanding anything, but it instantly became obvious that I had to find out more about that Chuck Knoblauch guy. He certainly played a sport called “baseball” for some team that played under this well-known logo.

On that day I would beg my father to let me watch the game in our RV. He agreed, and I was able to do the same for the next games, always sitting alone in front of a very, very small TV trying to identify some kind of system or scheme in the whole slugging, throwing, running and spitting. Oh that spitting! I know I saw some guys spitting brown stuff, weird but whatever… probably licorice.

So I witnessed the World Series for the first time in my life and I was hooked on that sport, on that team and especially on the excitement. It was the start of my steady wish to visit New York City and to witness games in Yankee Stadium. I had to wait 10 more years until I had the chance to visit Old Yankee Stadium before it was deconstructed. My second visit came one year later, this time in NYS for two games against the Sawx for the latter half of the great four-game sweep in ’09.

In the meantime (’98 to ’08) it was kind of hard to get any information about how the Yankees were doing. The only thing I was able to do was check the video text of some German TV stations that displayed scores and tables on two hidden pages. It was tough being a Yankee fan far away from the Bronx, and it probably is partly responsible for my ongoing drive towards this great city.

The internet came and I finally had the chance to let my Yankee-fever take over. Since then I am possessed, getting any kind of Yankees action. I even try to adjust my sleep so I can watch the games. I know it’s hard to go to bed at 8 p.m., sleep five hours, watch the game and get back to sleep for two more hours until I have to get up again, but I know:  It’s totally worth it.

In Germany though, I often get asked why I would do that to myself. I know it’s crazy to some degree, but I see so much beauty in the Game. I love numbers, and I love this sport because anything can happen, even if it’s the bottom of the ninth, two outs and two strikes. The action comes in a very quick peak and decreases in a second. It’s a roller coaster ride. And I like roller coasters, even if I have to ride them alone.

Granted, it would make my life easier if I were able to cut my ties to this great, great team. It’s just not possible. From the day in Santa Barbara, CA until today, it’s the time I’ve invested, the moments I’ve witnessed and probably the money I’ve spent, that have built these strong ties that connect me to the Yankees. I think I speak for a lot of Yankee fans in Europe when I say that it is a love, which is hard to maintain. But with every visit to NYC, I know why I keep up and don’t even think about stopping this insanity which is my life — every year from April to October.

So I will keep on cheering. And I will thank everyone wearing our logo in Germany (most of them not knowing what it stands for), as they have done the groundwork for my affection, because that is what the Yankees are: A global Brand. Whereas many people think it is a fashion label, there are a few of us outsiders – 6,000 or more miles away from Yankee Stadium — cheering as hard for the guys as you do, wishing to be in Yankee Stadium at least 81 times in a year.

Thank God it wasn’t Mr. Trevor Hoffman who was on the front page that day.

Associated Press photo

 
 

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59 Responses to “Pinch hitting: Ban Hofmann”

  1. talltenor February 7th, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Wirklich toll, Ban!

    My travels take me to Europe often – I’m in Paris now – so I understand exactly what Ban is talking about. I shall never forget following Game 7 of the 2001 Series via mlb.com’s GameDay (dial-up), at 4am in Italy. The thing would refresh about once a minute…

  2. BoJo February 7th, 2011 at 9:21 am

    One word for you–TIVO.

  3. BoJo February 7th, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Thanks for a nice job…makes me apprecaite what I have living here where I can get the games at a decent hour.

  4. Joe from Long Island February 7th, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Terrific post, Ban. Great choice, Chad.

  5. Meppie Amsterdam February 7th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Though I knew about baseball and the Yankees when I was about 5 years old, I can relate to Ban’s story. Being a baseball fan in Europe is no picknick with the time difference, so I’m always stoked when the Yanks play day games. I kinda value my sleep, so I take my Yankee hat off to Ban for getting up in the middle of the night. Come playoff time I do watch every game, no matter the time, just like last night with the Super Bowl, when I got to sleep at 05:00 AM.

    Nice to read something from a fellow Euro-Yankee fan.

  6. Doreen February 7th, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Erica-

    I think if you wrap it tightly in saran and then foil, or a zip lock, you should be okay.

  7. Erica in NY February 7th, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Doreen-

    Usually I cube the bread after I let it cool.

    If I cube it and put it in zip lock, does it need to be refridgerated?

  8. upstate kate February 7th, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Ban, I really enjoyed your post. I lo ved your ending!You are one dedicated fan :) I find it hard enough when we are on vacation and I have to rely on espn for scores.

  9. El Duque February 7th, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Ban! Starker Bericht! Erkenne mich in vielen Dingen wieder! Bei mir war es aber erst 1999!

    Vielleicht sieht man sich mal im Yankee Stadium!

  10. MConti February 7th, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I can really relate to the past two posts. First, as a Maryland alum (and history major) from 97-01 and then in grad school from 02-03, I missed the Nationals but instead got to a lot of games at Camden Yards. It was always a great experience because the ballpark was beautiful. While I was at Yankee-Oriole games after the 98 season it really started becoming Yankee Stadium South (or Fenway South when the Red Sox were in town). The combination of those two teams having such a great demand for tickets and the downturn of the Orioles allowed fans of both clubs to get great seats to see their favorite teams play.

    I was in Liverpool, England on a year long study abroad program my junior year at the University of Maryland, so I watched the 1999 World Series at 1am each night at the flat of a friend from Canada who was also studying abroad who had a tv at their place (we didn’t).

    Both guest spots were great, particularly because they hit so close to home for me. If Alex is reading, Go Terps!

  11. pat February 7th, 2011 at 9:52 am

    eboland11 Phil Hughes first one at minor league complex this morning. Throwing in OF. Throwing a bullpen in a little bit

    Happy dance! Baseball is coming!

  12. pat February 7th, 2011 at 9:55 am

    BrianCoz Jeter is taking BP, early morning for the captain #yankees

  13. Patrick February 7th, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Great guest post, thanks for writing Ban!

  14. SAS February 7th, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Ban,

    Thank you for loving the team that I grew up loving many decades ago. It is good to know we have fans like you living in other countries. I am in Arizona during the fall, winter, early spring and the time change….only 2 hrs. keeps me from watching some Yankees games or following it on MLB so I kind of understand.

    The majority of the baseball season I am in New York, and I do love it for my grandson and Yankee games.

  15. SAS February 7th, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Ban,

    It ia a 3 hour difference by the time baseball is played.

  16. Chip February 7th, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Eric Chavez? Really?

    Prior, Chavez, Jones, Colon, Garcia – man I’m really starting to believe that Cash is scouting via ESPN Classic ;-)

    I’m just kidding.

    I actually like the move. It costs the Yankees nothing and if he comes in and hits the ball well then he’s a nice guy to have on the bench. Certainly if Alex is going to need to be spotted a little more at 3b I would rather have Chavez over there on occassion than Nunez. That swing is just built for Yankee Stadium, always has been. He can also play some 1b and get some ab’s as a DH. Of course the question with him is, and will continue to be, how’s the back?

    Cervelli, Jones, Chavez, and Nunez is a nice group.

  17. pat February 7th, 2011 at 10:10 am

    BrianCoz Jeter’s got his glove on. No, he’s not going to CF #yankees

  18. Joe from Long Island February 7th, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Phil and Jeter at the minor league field? Happy days!

  19. Bronx Jeers February 7th, 2011 at 10:18 am

    And some of us complain when we can’t get the game in HD.

  20. MTU February 7th, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Jeers-

    I only complain when I can’t get the game in 3D.

    :)

  21. Wave Your Hat February 7th, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Hey the initial PECOTA projections have the Yanks winning the AL East with 100 wins! The Red Sox far behind.

  22. Pat M. February 7th, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Now that the Super Bowl is done with, I can smell the fresh cut grass…..Oh that might be the gardner outside doing his thing….Never the less it’s time to relish in what is right around the corner….Derek and Young Master Hughes already getting ready…….Love it !!!

  23. Joe from Long Island February 7th, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Pat M. – is your gardener provided by the same folks who do your pool service?

  24. MTU February 7th, 2011 at 10:34 am

    WYH-

    I prefer The Nostradamus and Edgar Caycee systems myself.

    They both predict the Yankees will get #28 this year.

    :)

  25. pat February 7th, 2011 at 10:35 am

    BrianCoz Hughes said he’ll concentrate on the changeup in spring. Felt he didn’t use it enough last year #yankees

    eboland11 Hughes said not throwing changeup early in season when he was having success hurt him in the 2nd half. It “wasn’t there when I needed it.”

  26. pat February 7th, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Grass? I think I remember grass. Its that green stuff under the 2 feet of white and gray stuff all over my yard right now, right?

  27. pat February 7th, 2011 at 10:39 am

    @NFLprguy The 400 fans w/out seats last nite went on field postgame, received free merchandise, food, beverage, $2,400, free SB46 tix

    Better deal than the times I’ve gotten bumped off airlplanes.

  28. MTU February 7th, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Phil Hughes takin’ a page out the AJ Burnett playbook ?

    I’ll be workin’ hard on my CU this Spring and intend to use it more.

    Seeing is believing Phil.

    Don’t stick it in your back pocket like AJ always seems to do.

    ;)

  29. Joe from Long Island February 7th, 2011 at 10:42 am

    If that’s right about how the NFL is compensating the folks who didn’t get seated for the game, then they’re trying to make it right. Many of those folks traveled great distances, and paid for hotels, to go to Dallas. Sounds like the NFL is doing what it can to make it up.

  30. pat February 7th, 2011 at 10:45 am

    BrianCoz Jeter on the winter firestorms: “(it’s) New York. It’s not my first year.” #yankees

    BrianCoz Jeter on position change: “My job isn’t to tell the future. I don’t have a crystal ball.” #yankees

    BrianCoz Jeter on hurt feelings after contract negotiations: “it’s over with. Done with.” #yankees

    BrianCoz Jeter on 2010: I’m pretty good about forgetting the previous season, good or bad. #yankees

  31. Pat M. February 7th, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Doctor Joe……No, not even close…..I’m not certain if my heart could take it !!!!

  32. Tom in N.J. February 7th, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Aaron Rodgers played great last night.

    However, I think his teammates need to find him a new nickname.

    ““A-Rod came in the huddle and told us ‘We’ve been here before. Yeah, it’s the Super Bowl, but we’ve been in this situation before,’ receiver James Jones said. “Story of our season.””

  33. Benny Blanco February 7th, 2011 at 10:49 am

    At least phil
    Understands the adjustments he needs to make in order for him to be more effective.

  34. Doreen February 7th, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Erica -

    If you’re going to cube it, once it’s cool, put it in a zip loc and I would put in the freezer and take it out with enough time to defrost. Get as much air out of the zip loc as you can.

    I have always had good results freezing bread. Better than refrigerator. Fridge takes out all the moister and it goes stale.

  35. Shame Spencer February 7th, 2011 at 10:54 am

    LOVE this guest post.

    I was in South Africa for a month one summer and missing baseball was the hardest part of the entire trip. The idea that this masterpiece of a sport was derived from Cricket is still unbelievable to me… rugby was kinda cool though. Sorta wish that was more popular in the states.

    I love how the internet is globalizing everything though. It would be kinda cool to start seeing baseball players come out of European countries or other places where it wouldn’t be expected. I especially dig that now all four major sports have embraced having professional games played in other countries.

  36. LGY February 7th, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Wave

    Can you post the AL East projection?

  37. Doreen February 7th, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Ban -

    I just now had the opportunity to read your post. Thank you for sharing your unique experience. Makes me realize how dedicated some fans are.

  38. Erica in NY February 7th, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Doreen-

    I am just worried the cheese will turn.

    Hmmm- I will saran wrap it after baking tonight and bring it to work tomorrow whole. I guess before I leave, I’ll into the kitchen and cube it.

    If I do that refridgeration/freezing will be unnecessary?

  39. austinmac February 7th, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Hughes appeared to have a good velocity difference and some movement on his CU. He needs to throw it even if it sometimes gets hit. It will make his fastball that much better by planting the CU thought into batter’s heads.

    Isn’t it nice to hear a little real baseball from players actually being on the field. It is finally happening folks.

  40. Shame Spencer February 7th, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Good for Phil for getting down there early and putting his work in.

    Mark my words, barring injury, this kid is gonna have one heck of a season. I believe he can be our #2 this season. I really, really do.

  41. Banshee February 7th, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Thanks guys, glad you liked it!
    Now let ST begin ;)

    Best from Hamburg, Germany

  42. Doreen February 7th, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Erica –

    Yes.

  43. Chip February 7th, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Funny line from Joel Sherman:

    I think Eric Chavez is, in fact, Spanish for Nick Johnson.

  44. Erica in NY February 7th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Doreen -

    Thank you :-)

  45. Erica in NY February 7th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    So ummm…
    where is everyone today?

  46. Doreen February 7th, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Erica -

    You’re welcome.

    :)

  47. Against All Odds February 7th, 2011 at 11:32 am

    # Erica in NY February 7th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    So ummm…
    where is everyone today?

    ———————–

    Super Bowl hangover

  48. Chip February 7th, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Against All Odds February 7th, 2011 at 11:32 am
    # Erica in NY February 7th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    So ummm…
    where is everyone today?

    ———————–

    Super Bowl hangover

    —————

    I think I need an entire cleansing after the junk food I made/ate yesterday.

  49. NYYROC February 7th, 2011 at 11:35 am

    To those posting the Jeter, Hughes quotes/ info : Thanks!!! It’s great to hear from the players. Knowing they are down there already makes winter more bearable!!! Please post pix if you can find them!

  50. MTU February 7th, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Chip-

    What happened to that famous wings recipe of yours ?

    ;)

  51. Erica in NY February 7th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Against All Odds February 7th, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Super Bowl hangover

    **********

    Probably. The day after Super Bowl is supposed to be the biggest “Call in sick” day of the year

  52. Chip February 7th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    MTU February 7th, 2011 at 11:36 am
    Chip-

    What happened to that famous wings recipe of yours ?

    ——————-

    Came out perfectly.

    I did a little mild tweaking and I think I finally hit upon the perfect balance between sweet, salty and heat.

  53. Against All Odds February 7th, 2011 at 11:40 am

    # Chip February 7th, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Against All Odds February 7th, 2011 at 11:32 am
    # Erica in NY February 7th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    So ummm…
    where is everyone today?

    ———————–

    Super Bowl hangover

    —————

    I think I need an entire cleansing after the junk food I made/ate yesterday.

    —————————————–

    You need detoxed and luckily baseball is right around the corner to provide one

  54. MTU February 7th, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Chip-

    Then what’s with the cleansing ?

    The “Tucks” I can understand.

    :)

  55. Wave Your Hat February 7th, 2011 at 11:42 am

    LGY-

    I don’t have access at the moment. A friend of mine just told me.

  56. Erica in NY February 7th, 2011 at 11:48 am

    :arrow:

  57. margaret February 7th, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I loved this post!
    I found it so interesting to think that most think the logo is a fashion brand.
    Great choice for pinch hitter and great post Ban!

  58. Johannes February 7th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Great post. Was thinking of submitting something quite similar, now I’m glad I didnt because you put my thoughts into words probably better than I would have.
    I live in Norway and know exactly what you’re talking about. I have yet to see a game live, but that will happen hopefully this year.
    Walking in the streets of Oslo and seeing someone walking around with a Mets cap makes me want to vomit. I don’t mind people wearing the interlocking N & Y, even though they don’t know what they mean, but wearing a Met cap is just wrong!

  59. Greensox21 February 8th, 2011 at 6:14 am

    Hello

    Nice to read the post from another Yankee Fan in Germany . I´m a Yankee Fan since 1990 after my First Trip to New York . At this Time the yankees were pretty bad, but i don´t care because my favorite Soccer Team were pretty bad too . The Thing is my Soccer Team stays bad since today , but the Yankees starting a decade of success . Today it is pretty easy to follow the Ballgame with great Blogs like that an Mlb.Tv 24/7 . but in the old days I ride every Day to the Airport to look in The USA Today to watch the scores . And every wednesday I buy one , because they have the Statistics in on that day .
    I Think 95% of the People wearing Yankees Hats here over in Germany have no Idea what that logo means ( the best are those hats in pink or yellow or something ) . Sometimes i make me some fun asking people with this Hats about the Rotation or what they think about the Lineup last night . You can see some funny looking Faces :)


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