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Fenway frankness

Fashionable Red Sox fans can play fair when showing their anti-Yankee sentiment

During a bumpy patch in her relationship with her boyfriend, a Yankees fan, Brenda O'Brien found a way to make .... call it a fashion statement.

She bought a T-shirt that proclaims: "Real women don't date Yankees fans." The romance is back on track, but O'Brien, 39, likes the general sentiment well enough that she wore the shirt Monday night when the Red Sox played the Orioles.

Meanwhile, Jim Duffy was striding down Brookline Avenue in a T-shirt that expressed his views: "I support two teams, the Red Sox and whoever beats the Yankees."

"I hate the Yankees," said Duffy, 46, of Windham, Conn. "Ever since I can remember. It's a new way of expressing it."

As the New York Yankees arrive in town tomorrow for a three-game series with the Red Sox, street vendors are preparing to do a booming business in a line of sports attire that seeks to tap into nearly a century of frustration. On the streets around Fenway Park, pushcarts are teeming with hats, T-shirts, and sweatshirts bearing anti-Yankees slogans. While many take a venomous approach that makes their slogans unprintable, others simply seek to express the rueful spirit of a city that has not seen a World Series victory since 1918, such as: "Any team can have a bad century."

Even within this crowded market niche, Mei Li, 22, a Stanford graduate from Brookline, saw an underserved constituency: women. So Li and a friend launched Homegirls, the company that sells the "Real women" T-shirts.

"We're the only ones who are targeting women," Li explained as patrons swarmed around her display near Kenmore Square. "A lot of times, the female fan gets overlooked. We want people to know that female sports fans are just as passionate as the guys." Li said she and her partner hope to expand the product line to include jackets and sweatshirts.

Don Aucoin can be reached at aucoin@globe.com.

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