Talkin' baseball and diplomacy

NEW YORK -- "I've got a near-torn Achilles," Henry Kissinger said outside the door of his apartment building.

"Like Kobe Bryant," said Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, as she helped him into the van.

"Who?" he asked as he settled into the seat for the ride to Yankee Stadium.

"You know who Kobe Bryant is," Power said.

"I don't know basketball," Kissinger said.

But the 90-year-old former Secretary of State knows baseball, and has been an avid Yankees fan since his youth. Power, on the other hand, can detail decades-old at-bats in the Bronx-Boston rivalry, but from her vantage point as a fervent Red Sox fan. The Irish-born ambassador even wrote this essay for The Boston Globe after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2013.

For 30 minutes, as the van negotiated traffic from the East Side of Manhattan to the Major Deegan, Power and Kissinger discussed baseball and diplomacy. The two are natural allies, given his experience and her current work at the United Nations, which included the passage Thursday of a resolution to send 12,000 peacekeepers to the Central African Republic, from where Power had returned that morning.

Power would have a few other issues she'd want to discuss "between pitches" in the owner's box, but the conversation began with the subject of the Red Sox and Yankees rivalry.

"One of the great negotiations," Kissinger started.

"If a Yankee fan and a Red Sox fan can head into the heart of darkness for the first game of the season," Power said, "all things are possible."

Power: Was it love at first sight?

Kissinger: I actually went also to the Polo Grounds [where the New York baseball Giants played] and decided the Yankees were for me.

Power: Was that in keeping with a realist's perspective on the world? Was that where victories were likely?

Kissinger: You might end up doing more realistic things.

Power: The human rights advocate, of course, falls in love with the Red Sox, the downtrodden, the people who can't win the World Series. Now, the fact that we've won three in the last decade ...

Kissinger: Now we are the downtrodden.

Power: Indeed. There are young idealists all around the world falling in love with the Yankees now and realists who are gravitating to the Red Sox. I think the universe is on its head.

Kissinger: Wait until Samantha says "realpolitik." It means: He's a German and watch out for him.

Power: Real ism. I came to America when I was 9. My mother brought me.

Kissinger: Oh, I didn't know that.

Power: From Ireland, yeah. My second day in the country, she brought me to Three Rivers Stadium.

Kissinger: Pittsburgh?

Power: Yes, in Pittsburgh, and it was 1979, so it would prove to be the year that they would win the World Series. We, of course -- she was just starting over -- didn't have any money and we got seats that were way up high in the bleachers.

Kissinger: Was she a sports fan, or did she do that for you?

Power: She knew nothing of baseball, but she was the captain of the Irish field hockey team and the Irish squash champions. She was an amazing athlete.

Kissinger: Why did she come here?

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