Justice Sotomayor honors roots at Yankee Stadium

Justice Sotomayor honors roots at Yankee Stadium

Justice Sotomayor honors roots at Yankee Stadium
NEW YORK -- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor remembers the days when she could sit unnoticed in the stands of the old Yankee Stadium.

On Wednesday, the woman who once reinstated baseball after the 1994-95 Major League Baseball strike and now resides on the nation's highest bench, sat on the benches in right field, joining the Bleacher Creatures at the new Yankee Stadium as they greeted her back home.

"There's quite a chord that gets touched when you come back on a day like today, and people are screaming out 'Justice' or 'Sonia,' and it brings a little bit of a tear to your eye," Sotomayor said. "My life has changed so much, and we have a new Yankee Stadium, but the spirit of the Yankees is still in the house."

Sotomayor, a native of the Bronx who was chosen for her lifelong perch by President Barack Obama in May 2009, calls herself a huge Yankees fan.

As a law student at Yale University in 1978, Sotomayor said she bet some of her closest friends that her Yankees would defeat the Red Sox in a tie-breaking game to end the regular season. When Bucky Dent hit his famous home run to send the Yankees into the playoffs, she made every one of them pay up.

"It's very moving for me and important to me that the comfort that they gave me most of my life -- and watching them most of the time win -- continues," Sotomayor said of her relationship with the Yankees.

While Sotomayor will always have her place in baseball history for the preliminary injunction against the owners that brought baseball out of the courtroom and back to the diamond on March 31, 1995, she wouldn't call herself the biggest baseball fan currently residing on the Supreme Court.

"Justice Scalia is fond of reminding me that he was the first Yankee fan on the court, and that he is still a very loyal Yankee fan," Sotomayor said. "I keep telling him the only difference is I was born in the Bronx and he wasn't."

Sotomayor was in attendance for a game in June against the Nationals, when director of media relations Jason Zillo invited her to attend a game in the bleachers. She accepted without hesitation, and honored her promise during Wednesday's 12-3 Yankee victory.

"I [pay] homage to the Bleacher Creatures," Sotomayor said. "They are the greatest fans. To sit in sweltering heat, while the sun is blazing, to sit out there in the rain, to sit out there on days we're losing, and not to take it out on our players, takes heart. They show it every game, every time they come out, and so I felt very proud to be with them."

Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.