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Yanks, Mets Fans Stay Friends

October 23, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ Fourteen years ago, during the Mets’ last trip to the World Series, Ron Darling pitched against the Boston Red Sox.

On Sunday, he hopped on the No. 4 train to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, slinking behind a pole in the Grand Central Terminal subway station and trying hard to go unnoticed.

But even among a sea of Yankees fans, the former Mets right-hander, now a broadcaster for Fox Sports Net, couldn’t quite maintain his anonymity.

``It’s not going to hurt to ask″ if it’s him, said Mike Nertne, who worked up the courage to say hello on the train. His efforts were rewarded, and he grinned broadly while chatting with Darling about the Yankees’ 12th-inning Game 1 victory on Saturday night.

With all the hype and excitement surrounding the first all-New York World Series since 1956, Darling owned up to just a twinge of jealousy.

``I’d pay anything to be in a uniform,″ he said before the Yankees held on for a 6-5 victory in Game 2.

The stadium crowd, as expected, was dominated by Yankees fans.

But not all Mets fans were persona non grata on the Yanks’ turf. On both sides, some fans put the sporting rivalry aside, bridging Subway Series divisions even as they rooted for opposing teams.

``We already won because we’re both here,″ said Frank Ballar, 27, of Queens, a Mets fan who came to the game with his friend Charlie Iovino, 28, a Yanks booster.

The two were decked out in jerseys and caps and had their faces painted in their respective teams’ colors. They weren’t taking the spirit of togetherness too far, though _ their tickets had them sitting on opposite sides of the upper deck.

Steven Filipe, 31, and Anthony Crocitto, 34, both from Dix Hills, were a little more bipartisan, wearing jerseys that showed their divided loyalties.

The two cut a Yankee shirt and a Mets shirt down the middle and sewed the mismatched halves together, so each man sported both clubs’ colors. Filipe also wore a Mets cap with a Yankee logo embroidered on the back.

``May the best team win,″ he said.

Both fans were rooting for a seven-game series.

Eleven-year-old Yankees fan T.C. Neuhs claimed to be motivated by sportsmanship when he warned his baby-sitter’s boyfriend, a Mets fan, to ditch his blue-and-orange garb.

``It’s for his own good,″ T.C. said.

But the Queens team’s fans weren’t getting too much grief from home team supporters in the upper deck, where most people seemed thrilled just to have scored coveted Subway Series tickets.

``So far, it’s been everything it’s supposed to be,″ gushed Ryan Schinnerer, 16, sitting with his dad.

``There’s just nothing like it,″ said Ryan’s cousin, Paul Sorber. ``You can watch it on TV, but it’s not the same.″

Sorber, Ryan and his father, Ricky Schinnerer, had their faces covered in Yankees blue-and-white paint.

``He’s with us,″ Sorber said of a family friend. ``But he didn’t spend the extra $1.49 for face paint.″

Nearby, Cormac Quinn of Jersey City, N.J., said visiting the House that Ruth Built in his Mets cap, jacket and shirt wasn’t too rough.

``I got a couple of snarls, but it’s been all right,″ he said, pointing to other fans sitting nearby.

Don’t worry, Cormac. Game 3 is at Shea Stadium on Tuesday night.

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