Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Steinbrenner, UNC supporter, dead at age 80

The News & Observer today appropriately pointed out the connections that Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had with UNC-Chapel Hill. Steinbrenner died this morning of a heart attack in Tampa.

The Steinbrenner family donated a million bucks to the renovation of Boshamer Stadium on the Carolina campus. In fact, when you walk in you pass the Steinbrenner Family Courtyard. Jenny, his daughter, graduated from UNC in 1981. During her years there, Steinbrenner sent the Yankees to Chapel Hill three times for exhibition games.

I was at Carolina during the same era. In fact, noted sportswriter Dick Shaap, who passed away a few years ago himself, called the Daily Tar Heel offices and asked if I would get some information on Jenny for him to include in his then-upcoming book on George Steinbrenner.

I did. Without personal computers then, I forget how I got the info to him but I remember talking to a woman at his house that had a thick foreign accent and I couldn't figure out if it was a wife, a housekeeper or someone else. I feared that Shaap wouldn't get my message but he evidently did.

The material made the book, almost one whole page worth, but unfortunately I never even got a free copy of the book, much less any compensation. Oh well. During the team visits, I did get to meet such Yankee icons as Yogi Berra, who was a coach at the time, and Ron Guidry, one of the best Yankee pitchers of all time who the previous season was the best in the league with 25 wins.

While I'm a Red Sox fan and, like most everyone else, I tired of the storylines around Steinbrenner, including the love-hate relationship with Billy Martin, I'm appreciative of Steinbrenner's support for UNC baseball and the fact that he afforded me opportunities of a lifetime to chat with baseball legends.

No comments:

Post a Comment