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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