Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Yankee fan who grew up in Stamford, a city partial to the Mets, slipped on a Red Sox game jersey Friday.
“For charity,” he said, half under his breath.
The occasion was a press conference publicizing a Red Sox Foundation charity license plate program in Connecticut, a battleground state in the baseball wars. The plate costs a $50 donation to the foundation, plus $65 to the DMV, with the donations going to pay for scholarships.
“As someone who sits on the same side of the aisle as you in baseball, I’ll forgive you today,” said Joe D’Ambrosio, a broadcaster on WTIC-AM, which broadcasts Sox games in Connecticut.
Malloy, a Boston College graduate whose wife grew up a Sox fan in Needham, Mass., seemed surprised when Sam Kennedy, the chief operating officer of the Sox, held up a jersey with Malloy’s name.
“I thought we would try and convince the governor to come on away from the evil empire of the Yankees and invite him to come to Fenway to join our team,” Kennedy said.
“I was going to be very nice today,” Malloy said. “I didn’t wear a pinstripe suit. I didn’t put on a blue tie — I didn’t put on a red tie — but I didn’t put on a blue tie.”
Politicians and sports make a frothy combination, until someone tries to hedge on team fealty, as Hillary Clinton did on Yankees vs. Mets in her rookie season as a New York pol. Then the combination quickly can turn sour.
President Obama always played it straight. He is a White Sox man, not Cubs. And he wasn’t afraid to tweak Red Sox fans at a Boston fundraiser in 2012, thanking them for Kevin Youkilis, who had just been traded to Chicago.
When the crowd booed, Obama grinned wickedly and said, “I’m just saying, he had to change the color of his socks.”
On Friday, Malloy didn’t waffle, either.
He noted that Connecticut, by a small margin, favors the Yankees over the Sox in recent polling.
“I don’t want to be beat up on you, but that number used to be the other way,” Malloy told Kennedy. “It just so happens that when I became governor, it swung in that direction.”
Watching were three diehard Sox fans, U.S. Reps. John Larson and Joe Courtney and the starting catcher on the Congressional Democrats baseball team, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy.
All three donned Sox caps. Malloy declined.
Murphy offered his status as an avowed Sox fan as a profile in courage. Until his election last fall, he represented a congressional district along the New York border.
“And it cost me thousand and thousand of votes,” Murphy said. “But I always said I’m willing to pander to lots of different political groups — just not Yankees fans.”
Information on the charity plate is available at redsoxfoundation.org