July 18, 2010 — Yesterday’s Old-Timers’ Day festivities had special meaning, as many of the Yankees alumni came to Yankee Stadium with heavy hearts.
“It’s great to see the guys, but today is very bittersweet,” former second baseman Pat Kelly said.
Following the game, Reggie Jackson talked to me about his last conversation with George M. Steinbrenner III.
“I talked to George on his birthday [July 4],” Jackson said. “He was feeling great. I was beaming when I got off the phone with him, because his spirits were high.”
Jackson also discussed Steinbrenner’s legacy.
“George always focused on winning, as opposed to fiscal reward,” Jackson said. “His goal was to build the brand into something he would be proud of. Nobody did that better than George. In the last 40 years, Mariano Rivera and George Steinbrenner have been the most important members of the New York Yankees. Without the great Mariano, the Yankees wouldn’t have won five championships since 1996. Without George, they wouldn’t have won any of them. Since 1973, the face of the New York Yankees has been George Steinbrenner.”
The day featured a moving tribute to Bob Sheppard, along with the customary player introductions and Old-Timers’ game.
Below are some of my favorite photographs from the memorable day — all of which you’ll see in the August issue of Yankees Magazine.
–Alfred Santasiere III