September 2010

Monumental Tribute

September
20, 2010 — There aren’t many places that are more special than Yankee
Stadium’s Monument Park. Even though the “new” Yankee Stadium is only
a few years old, the original monuments and plaques are historic. They, along
with the Yankees tradition, were moved across the street.

A
significant part of that tradition is George M. Steinbrenner III. And before
tonight’s game, the Yankees unveiled a 7-foot wide, 5-foot high bronze monument
honoring the Boss.

Steinbrenner’s
monument sits behind monuments dedicated to Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and it is
by far the largest one in the park.

The
ceremony began with the introductions of several members of the Steinbrenner
family, including the Boss’ widow Joan, who was escorted onto the field by
commissioner Bud Selig. The Yankees family stood behind home plate while a
video tribute to the Boss was played on the Stadium’s scoreboard.

“When
I saw the Steinbrenner family standing out there, I felt bad for them because
they had to relive the week that their father passed away,” David Wells
told me when I visited his suite a few minutes after the ceremony. “But
when you think about it, they did this for the Yankees fans, and that is
exactly what George would have wanted them to do. He would be very proud of
them tonight.”

Following
the video tribute, former Yankees emerged from the home dugout and stepped into
golf carts, which took them to Monument Park. Joe Girardi and the entire
present-day team led them around the warning track.

Joe
Torre and Don Mattingly were among the former Yankees on hand.After
my visit with Wells, I spent a few minutes with the current manager (Torre) and
future manager (Mattingly) of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“When
you move on from one team to the next, you miss the people you don’t get to see
anymore,” Torre said. “This was a special night, because I got to see
so many old faces. In baseball, there are a lot of people who you
never get to see again after you leave a team.”

Once
the current team, the former Yankees and the Steinbrenner family arrived in Monument
Park, Joan Steinbrenner removed a Yankees banner from atop the Boss’ monument.
And there it was — a remarkably poignant bust of the Boss along with the
following words:

George
M. Steinbrenner III

July 4,
1930 – July 13, 2010

New York Yankees Principal Owner

“The
Boss”

1973-2010

Purchased the New York Yankees on Jan. 3, 1973. A true visionary who
changed the game of baseball forever, he was considered the most influential
owner in all of sports. In his 37 years as Principal Owner, the Yankees posted
a Major League-best .566 winning percentage, while winning 11 American League
pennants and seven World Series titles, becoming the most recognizable sports
brand in the world.

A devoted sportsman, he was Vice President of the United States Olympic
Committee, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors and a
member of the NCAA Foundation Board of Trustees.

A great
philanthropist whose charitable efforts were mostly performed without fanfare,
he followed a personal motto of the greatest form of charity is anonymity.

–Alfred Santasiere III


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From South Bend to West Point to Yankees Magazine

September 20, 2010 –
I was in South Bend, Indiana last week, where I conducted research and
interviews for my story on the history of the Notre Dame – Army football
rivalry, which will be renewed at Yankee Stadium on November 20.

The story will be
published in the October issue of Yankees
Magazine
.

My research continued
at beautiful West Point on September 15, where I interviewed several Army
players along with their coach Rich Ellerson. Yankees team photographer Jim
Petrozzello was on hand to take portraits of Ellerson and a group of Army
players.

The trip to West
Point was memorable, but the journey through South Bend was unforgettable.

On my first day in
rural Indiana, Yankees consultant and former Notre Dame gridiron great John
Mosley escorted Petrozzello and I into Father Theodore Hesbergh’s office, where
I interviewed the former Notre Dame president during a half-hour long visit.
Hesburgh presided over the university for 35 years and has been credited for
integrating Notre Dame’s student body.

After we left
Hesburgh’s (cigar) smoke-filled office, Mosley brought us to the practice
field, where I met a dozen former players, including a few who played at the
old Yankee Stadium during their time with the Irish.

As for the action on
the field, it was intense. Notre Dame’s new coach, Brian Kelly, is adored by
virtually everyone in South Bend – from the man at the car rental desk to
Hesburgh – but he isn’t taking anything for granted. He ran practice from the
field (not a watch tower like many other coaches), and while things seemed to
go smoothly from my vantage point, it didn’t stop Kelly from maintaining a high
volume at all times.

I interviewed several
players as they walked off the practice field and Petrozzello took portraits
shots of those players minutes later. Those photos are beautifully lit, and
they will stand out in the feature.

Reggie Brooks, a
celebrated running back, who rushed for 1,372 yards in 1992 and whose 7.6 yards
per carry is unmatched in Notre Dame’s history, joined us at dinner that night.

Friday
began with a tour of Notre Dame Stadium, one of America’s most storied venues.
When I walked into the home locker room, I felt like I was living a scene from
the movie “Rudy.” It felt surreal, and it reminded me of the first time I
stepped foot in the clubhouse at the old Yankee Stadium.

Knute
Rockne, Johnny Lujack, Joe Montana, Paul Horning, Nick Buoniconti. That’s who I
was thinking about when I walked down a narrow staircase and slapped the famous
“Play Like a Champion Today” sign.

At
11:45 a.m. on Friday, I interviewed Brian Kelly in his office. That was the
highlight of the trip. Regardless of what Kelly’s legacy becomes, he is the
head football coach at Notre Dame. The time that Petrozzello and I spent with
him was extraordinary, as is the portrait that Petrozzello captured.

Later
that afternoon, we – along with 30,000 others – attended the Notre Dame pep
rally. We watched the festivities from behind the stage and alongside former Pennsylvania
governor and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, who I interviewed for
the story.

Saturday, September 11 was game day. Notre Dame vs. Michigan. I watched the teams take the field from
the end zone, and I was captivated by the energy in the stadium from that point
forward. Notre Dame fell behind early, came back to take a fourth quarter lead
and gave it up in the final seconds. The final score was Michigan 28, Notre
Dame 24. It was a thrilling game.

This
story will be one of the more comprehensive pieces you’ll read in Yankees Magazine. It will preview the
November 20 Notre Dame vs. Army game. It will detail Notre Dame and Army’s
storied histories. It will bring you the words of the Theodore Hesburgh and
Brian Kelly. And it will showcase a unique collection of photographs.

Special
thanks to John Mosely, who made all of the interviews and photo shoots happen.

–Alfred
Santasiere III

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Jason Taylor Visits Yankee Stadium

September 5, 2010 — New York Jets linebacker Jason Taylor and his family were at the Yankees game yesterday, and Taylor will be the subject of a Five Minutes with… interview in the October issue of Yankees Magazine.

Alex Rodriguez, who has a long-standing friendship with the former Miami Dolphins star, escorted Taylor and his sons into the Yankees clubhouse before the game. Taylor and his family also took in batting practice from the the field.
After the Yankees took BP, I interviewed Taylor, who I worked with in 2002 when I was a member of the Miami Dolphins media relations department.
I asked Taylor to discuss A-Rod’s magical 2009 postseason.
“He was unbelievable,” Taylor said. “He’s the best player in the game, and he’s been playing at such a high level for 17 years. As a friend, I was thrilled that he finally got a World Series ring. That’s why he plays the game. You can see the passion and love he has for the game and how seriously he takes it. He silenced a lot of doubters, and I thought that was great.”
Don’t miss the rest of the interview when the October issue comes out.
–Alfred Santasiere III
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It’s All Here

September 5, 2010 — I can’t remember an issue of Yankees Magazine that has had content as
diverse as the September issue — which came out on Friday.

I have previewed several of those stories on this blog over the
summer, but now, they are all yours.

The cover story takes our readers into Nick Swisher’s life,
which is pretty good these days according to managing editor Ken Derry.

The issue also features Yankees history, a present-day Yankees
legend, a look into the Yankees future and one of the greatest stories of
giving back. And lest I forget, we threw in some football and music.

What does all that mean?

Well, the historical features include my story on the 1929
semi-pro game in which Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig came to my hometown of South
Orange, N.J. (pictured below) and left an indelible mark on everyone who was there to witness
it, including my beloved grandmother, Mildred Santasiere.

That story is followed by a sidebar that details a game that
Whitey Ford pitched on the very same field in 1952. As you’ll see, Whitey
accompanied me back to Cameron Field this summer for an exclusive photo shoot.

Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th home run on August 4, and a
behind-the-scenes look at that day can be found in this issue.

The Yankees future is bright, not only because of the players on
the team’s big-league roster, but also because of Jesus Montero, the 20-year
catcher of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. I spent a day with Montero, and I
am confident that he will be an important piece of the Yankees puzzle for years
to come.

The Yankees have certainly given back to people in need this
summer, and that was never more apparent than during HOPE Week. For five days
in late August, Yankees players and coaches made a difference in the lives of
some very special people, and those incredible accounts are in this issue.

Senior editor Kristina Dodge previews the upcoming Jay-Z/Eminem
concerts at Yankee Stadium while also looking back at some of the musical acts
who performed at the old Yankee Stadium. Dodge takes Yankees Magazine
readers through past Stadium concerts of Ray Charles, the Isley Brothers, U2,
B.B. King and Billy Joel.

And lastly, there’s two Q&A’s with men of the gridiron,
including Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti of the Miami Dolphins’ perfect team of
1972.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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