Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s leading infectious disease expert, spends 19-hour days leading the fight against coronavirus.
“I don’t think there is a place where I can relax more than sitting in Nats Park and watching my world champion Nats play today,” said Fauci, 79, who grew up in Brooklyn and chose the Yankees and is now a fan of the Washington Nationals said in an interview this week.
But the person with the avuncular demeanor who provides such sobering news and practical advice with his Brooklyn accent at press conferences is a super fan with a deep knowledge of baseball history.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, grew up in an Italian enclave in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, during the so-called enclave golden age of New York baseball. Every season from 1947 to 1957, with the exception of one (1948), at least one of the city’s three major league teams – the Yankees, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants – played in the World Series. The Yankees won seven titles during this period.
Fauci said he played baseball in Brooklyn’s Sandlots, which spawned future Major League stars Joe Pepitone and Sandy Koufaxwas better than high school baseball. He worshiped the Yankees, whose home was in the Bronx, although the Dodgers played in nearby Ebbets Field before moving to Los Angeles in 1958.
“People don’t know that half the people in Brooklyn, half the kids on the street like me were Yankee fans and half Dodger fans,” he said, adding, “And we spent all our time on it to argue us Who is better: Duke Snider or Mickey Mantle? Yogi Berra or Roy Campanella? Pee Wee Reese or Phil Rizzuto? “
“I like all sports,” said Fauci recently, “but I’m really, much more a baseball fan.”
After college, medical school and hospitalization, Fauci carried his Yankees fandom to Washington. He didn’t care much about it the senators, an expansion team that left Washington to become the Texas Rangers for the 1972 season. He tried to become a Baltimore Orioles fan, he said, but “it’s difficult if you live 40 minutes away.” But if The Montreal Expos moved In 2005 to Washington to become the Nationals, Fauci was thrilled.
“It triggered that kind of violent affection for a team that I haven’t had since I adored all the Yankees,” he said. “I just fell in love with the Nats. I don’t think I’m disloyal to the Yankees. I see it as a kind of replacement for my childhood love for baseball that I still have. “
It shows. On Tuesday, Fauci was interviewed by Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals’ long-time main base, for the team’s website. They talked about possible scenarios in which Major League Baseball could play again after the spring training in mid-March. Zimmerman offered him tickets. Fauci said dizzy that he had been a fan of Zimmerman since he was drafted by the Nationals of the University of Virginia in 2005.
In a subsequent interview with the New York Times, Fauci painted a cautious picture of when baseball could return. Although he said sports could distract the public, he admitted that the necessary tests were not yet available and warned of a premature reopening of the country.
“There are certain parts of the country – in the mountainous region and the Midwest, as well as in some places where there are very few infections and which develop the ability to respond to them. I think they are returning to some form of more normalcy, ”he said. “It’s much, much different than sending someone to Madison Square Garden to play a Big East game.”
Despite his hectic schedule, Fauci found some time for his other passion, running, to improve his mental and physical health. Before the pandemic, his daily routine was to eat yogurt for lunch and run a seven-mile run on the Bethesda Trolley Trail near his office at the National Institutes of Health.
(Although Fauci called it running on Tuesday, he admitted it during a performance at Barstool Sports.Pardon My Take ”podcast in March he does more power walking because pounding a faster pace hurts his back.)
His midday runs are reduced to about three and a half miles and no longer run daily. To make up for it, he said he and his wife Christine had taken an evening trip through their Washington neighborhood several times a week. They still got their weekend runs along the Potomac River.
Fauci, who has run four marathons and approximately 50 km in his life, said he was looking forward to controlling the spread of the coronavirus so that he could return to his usual daily exercise routine. Until then, his beloved baseball, Warts and such, could be back too.
“I like the rhythm of the game,” he said. “Some people think the game is too slow. But going to Nats Park to sit down and have a hot dog and a beer and just watch things go slowly and then suddenly explode off the wall with a few line runs, followed by a few home runs and then – Bingo – Your adrenaline rises tenfold.
“This is a catharsis for people who have a stressful life like me.”
Ken Belson contributed to the reporting.