By on July 19, 2010

With the passing last week at the ripe old generous age of 80 George Steinbrenner left behind a story or two ignored or cut for space concerns by the media..

     One particular incident was during the Yankees first Tampa spring training in 1996 when the Yankees hosted the Toronto Blue Jays at then Legends Field.  Now please remember fans this is written strictly from memory, something I have never really had.

     Okay here goes as when George entered the park two young gentlemen politely ask him for his autograph but they were only in possession of one baseball.  It was later learned that it was all they could catch when the Yankees were working out on the side field to the stadium.

     In chatting with the young men George found out they didn’t have a ticket between them for the game either, just the one baseball.  A situation “The Boss” soon rectified personally.

     For these two young men a thrill of a life time was waiting in that George took them right into the Yankees clubhouse and introduced them around to the likes of Paul O’Neil and Wade Boggs.

     They both got brand new baseballs, that they got autographed along with cold drinks while they were in the clubhouse being personally served and delivered by “The Boss”

     As a note here, George Steinbrenner did know how to work the soda machine and where the baseballs were kept, a consummate gentleman.

     The last I saw of the young gentlemen they were still getting autographs and waiting for their game tickets so they could view the Blue Jays/Yankees spring match up.

     Now one might ask why a real big deal was never made of it and that is because only two reporters witnessed it.

     You see Scott Ferguson of “Sports Radio The Fan 590” the Blue Jays flagship station and yours truly saw it.  We both decided to announce it at the same time, me on the wire for AP New York and WZZZ in Fulton, N.Y. along with Scott during the second inning on the fan’s live play-by-play from the park.  Our timing was perfect as by the third inning the press box was wondering where it came from.  Now they know 14-years later.

     Unfortunately it was too good a story so by the time of the morning editions came out it was a one or two lines at the bottom of the game story but it was a shinning moment for a much construed gentlemen.

     Now why this particular story?  Well it was the first time I personally got to meet George Steinbrenner face to face and all you ever got on the news in upstate New York was the negative press he generated, not the good stuff.  For that matter just about every media market in the country except the Tampa area where he was a saint.

     For the next 14-years I have learned to take the good with the bad concerning George and personally the good did out weigh the bad in my option.

     Maybe next time you fans might be embellished with a story of how George’s negative comments lengthened an individual’s career.

     So until then…

Categories: Baseball, Other Side of Sports (Too), Sports
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