July 2011

The Spirit of the Steinbrenners

July 23, 2011 — The Women’s Issue of Yankees Magazine will be on the shelves on August 8, and the final pieces of the content are being put in place this week.

Last week, Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello, senior editor Kristina Dodge and I traveled to Tampa to capture the images and the words of the issue’s cover subjects — Joan Steinbrenner, Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, Jessica Steinbrenner and Christina Steinbrenner.

The photograph was taken in the owner’s suite at George M. Steinbrenner Field, with the four women assembled around a large New York Yankees top-hat logo that adorns the carpet. That setting was a favorite photo backdrop of our late owner, George M. Steinbrenner.

The baseball diamond and the “George M. Steinbrenner Field” sign are seen in the background of the beautifully lit photo, along with a few giant white clouds dispersed through the mid-afternoon blue sky.

I will be forever grateful to the Steinbrenner family for their support of the first issue of Yankees Magazine dedicated to women.

When I met with Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal to discuss the project a few months ago, she immediately expressed her pride in the fact that the New York Yankees would be the first professional sports organization in the United States to dedicate an issue of their official team publication to women. From that point forward, she has dedicated more time and effort to the project than I could have ever asked for.

I couldn’t think of a more appropriate cover for this groundbreaking issue than the late George Steinbrenner’s wife, his two daughters and his daughter-in-law — four women who have followed the Boss’ example by consistently finding new ways to help others.

For more on the philanthropic work of the Steinbrenner family, check out Dodge’s story in the Women’s Issue titled “The Second Nature of Giving.” In that feature, Dodge will not only detail the charity work of the Steinbrenners, but she will also discuss the work that so many of the Yankees players’ wives do in the community.

While I have promised to keep the cover under wraps — and hence will not be posting it until August 8 — please enjoy the photo below, which Petrozzello took moments after he shot the cover photo. The photo below (from L: Christina Steinbrenner, Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, Joan Steinbrenner and Jessica Steinbrenner) will run as the opening spread in Dodge’s story about the Steinbrenner family.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Music and Sports Lore Unite. Paul McCartney Performs at Yankee Stadium.

July 16, 2011 — Last night’s concert was as magical as it was electric.

As I watched Paul McCartney belt out 27 Beatles songs from my seat in right field, I realized it was as true a Beatles experience as anyone in my generation could ever have. I was born in 1979, one year and nine months before John Lennon’s murder.

Last night, my wife Tiana and I witnessed Paul McCartney singing a set list that included Hello, Goodbye; Paperback Writer; The Long and Winding Road; Hey Jude; Yesterday and All My Lovin.’

The atmosphere was electric. The crowd was into every song, and the fans on the field rarely sat in their seats. Several times during the concert, the Stadium erupted in chants of McCartney’s name, which mimicked the role-call chant at Yankees games … Paul Mc – Cartney!

McCartney also acknowledged the setting as he offered a timely and timeless joke.

“By the way, who is this Derek Jeter guy,” McCartney said. “Somebody said he’s got more hits than me.”

The night was magical because it saw McCartney perform in New York, the first city the Beatles played in on United States soil. And 46 years after the Beatles took the stage at Shea Stadium, the greatest sports franchise in the world and the most famous band in history – or at least one key part of that band – were finally united.

The New York Yankees have now hosted Paul McCartney. Paul McCartney has now performed at Yankee Stadium. The atmosphere was electric, the songs were magical, but more importantly, the event was historic.

As tonight’s show rapidly approaches, I can only imagine how magical Yankee Stadium will become again.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Thank You!

July 16, 2011 – A week ago today, Derek Jeter reached the milestone that every hitter in baseball covets. Jeter collected his 3,000th career hit on July 9, and he did it in a way that only he could.

Jeter collected the 3,000th hit on a home run, and he achieved the milestone on a day when he went 5-for-5 for only the third time in his storied career.

When I left the press box, moments after Jeter joined Wade Boggs as the only players to collect their 3,000th hit on a home run, I noticed a 30-yard line at a merchandise stand on Yankee Stadium’s 200 level.

As if I couldn’t tell before that, that’s when I realized the magnitude of the day.

And on the afternoon that Jeter became the 28th player to reach the 3,000 hit plateau, we released a commemorative issue of Yankees Magazine.

This special issue of Yankees Magazine marks history. Every copy that we printed was authenticated with an MLB issued sticker. In other words, there is proof that if you have a DJ3K program, you were at Yankee Stadium to witness the captain’s milestone.

Jeter’s iconic status and overall popularity propelled the sales of this special issue, and we broke Yankees Magazine’s all-time, regular-season, single-game sales record by selling 11,420 copies.

The publication includes a feature by associate editor Nathan Maciborski on Jeter’s time in the minors, my feature about the batting mechanics that led Jeter to hit No. 3,000 and New York Daily News beat writer Mark Feinsand’s feature about Jeter’s top 10 moments (before the magical 3,000 hit day).

We also compiled exclusive quotes from as many members of the 3,000 hit club as we could reach in the weeks before Jeter joined them. That piece contains the words of Hank Aaron, Wade Boggs, Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield, Cal Ripken, Jr.  and Robin Yount.

To all of the fans who purchased this publication, I say Thank You.

–Alfred Santasiere III

July Issue of Yankees Magazine – ON SALE NOW

July 7, 2011 — The July issue of Yankees Magazine is on sale now. It’s on sale at Yankee Stadium and on the newsstands in and around New York City. To subscribe to Yankees Magazine, please call (800) GO-YANKS log on to http://www.yankees.com/publications.

Derek Jeter, who is currently three hits shy of his 3,000th, is on the cover (see below). The cover story was written by managing editor, Ken Derry, and it provides our readers with a behind-the-scenes look as to just how difficult it is to reach the coveted 3,000 hit mark.

I am especially proud of my contributions to this issue, which include my feature story on Goose Gossage, my interviews with former New York Giants Carl Banks and Mark Bavaro and my interview with Joe Torre and Lou Piniella.

For more details on all of those features, please see my previous blog entries from the last few weeks. Those posts detail my lunch conversations with Banks and Bavaro as well as my three-day fishing trip to Leadville, Colorado and my interview with Torre and Piniella.

Enjoy this very special issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Two Legendary Skippers, One Conversation

July 7, 2011 — Last week was an exciting time for everyone involved with the New York Yankees, and it was capped off by the organization’s 65th annual Old-Timers’ Day, which took place on Sunday June 26.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Yankees alumni yacht cruise around Manhattan on the eve of Old-Timers’ Day and even more lucky to get two of the greatest managers in this era to spend a half hour with me for a Q & A feature.

The interview, which will be published in the July issue of Yankees Magazine, took place on the deck of the boat, and it was as candid as any piece you’ll find in an official team publication.

While it was difficult to coordinate on the spot — for the first hour of the trip, it seemed that when Torre was available, Piniella was engaged and vise versa — I believe that my efforts to get the skippers together was well worth it. The interview would not have been what it was if I had spoken to each of the managers separately, as they fed off of each other’s energy and charisma, as well as their answers.

Below is the Q & A with two Yankees legends, who combined to manage major league teams for a total of 52 years and who each played in the big leagues for 18 years.

The July issue, which will be on sale this Thursday (July 7), will also include a 12 page photo essay from Old-Timers’ Day. Those pages will contain images of Torre and Piniella, as well as Bernie Williams, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Jerry Coleman, Don Larsen and many more great Yankees of the past.

–Alfred Santasiere III


Yankees Magazine: What was the most challenging aspect of managing against Joe Torre?

Lou Piniella: We couldn’t beat the Yankees. I had some good teams in Seattle, but we just couldn’t get by Joe and the Yankees in the postseason. In 2001, we won 116 games. I remember the Yankees had lost the first two games of the American League Division Series to Oakland, and they were on the verge of being eliminated. I was pulling for the Yankees because I wanted another crack at them. Boy, were they the wrong team to root for. They sent us home in five games that year. Joe and his old lieutenant, Don Zimmer, did a heck of a job leading that ballclub. Those Yankees teams were as relaxed as any team I ever faced in postseason play.

YM: What was the most difficult part of managing against Lou Piniella?

Joe Torre: Lou and I are friends, but when we managed against each other, we had to hate each other for a time. Lou managed from his gut, and he used everything at his disposal. He’s a fighter, and those kinds of guys scare you. I always knew how passionate he was about the game, and he always knew how passionate I was about the game. That made for some great battles between our clubs.

YM: What was the best part of working for George Steinbrenner and the most challenging aspect of working for him?

JT: He gives you a chance to win, and he expects to win. That’s the best part and the toughest part. George was always accessible. I worked for Ted Turner and August Busch, who certainly wanted to win, but they weren’t around. I used to say to the media that you can’t pick and choose the part you want to keep and the part you don’t want about a person. George wanted to win, and I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to manage the New York Yankees.

LP: He gave us good ballclubs, and he was always very supportive. If we needed a player, he would go out and get him. He wasn’t very patient. I retired as a player on a Saturday in 1984 and was the team’s hitting coach the next day. In ’86, I was managing the Yankees without having any prior managerial experience. If it hadn’t been for Mr. Steinbrenner, I would have had to manage in the minor leagues for a while.

YM: When you look back on your careers, what separates the championship teams that you were a part of from all of the other teams?

LP: I managed the 1990 world champion Cincinnati Reds, and I can remember every one of those players as if I managed them yesterday. I’ve managed other places, and I don’t remember all of the guys on those teams. You never forget the guys you win with.

JT: There’s a certain cohesiveness, a certain level of unselfishness about the guys on championship teams. It’s the manager’s job to aim them in the right direction. One example of that took place a few hours a postseason game in 1996. I needed to decide whether I was going to DH Darryl Strawberry or Cecil Fielder. Their stats against that night’s pitcher were very similar. Darryl was the first guy I saw when I got to the ballpark, and I told him that I didn’t know if I was going to DH him or Cecil? He looked at me and said, “Play Cecil. I can handle sitting on the bench.” That gives you an indication of the unselfishness of that team.

YM: You each managed Alex Rodriguez. What is your opinion of how Alex’ career has developed?

LP: We brought him up to Seattle when he was 18 years old. We gave him a two little cups of coffee, as the saying goes. He played shortstop for about a month, and I talked to him about what he needed to do to get back to the majors. He came back the next year and won a batting title. He was a man among boys when he played for me, and I was really happy that he finally won a World Series in 2009.

JT: Alex has so much ability, and he also has a work ethic that you really don’t see in many guys. When a guy who gets paid as much as Alex does and has accomplished as much as Alex has is the first player to show up at the ballpark every day in spring training — which means he’s there by 7 in the morning — you know that he never took anything for granted. When he got to the Yankees, the expectations were so high that I think he put a great deal of pressure on himself. It’s really tough to satisfy people in New York, and as Lou said, I’m glad in 2009 he was able to not only win a World Series ring, but be largely responsible for it.

YM: You have both managed so many superstar players over the years. What is the biggest challenge in keeping a roster of All-Star-caliber players grounded and productive?

JT: The only thing I tried to get across was that they’re really obligated to each other. If somebody wasn’t in the lineup, I encouraged them not to be upset at that player who was playing their position because I was the person responsible for that decision. Once players get close to experiencing a championship, they become very selfless. As I have said many times before, they are great for a reason. People think it’s tough to manage guys with big egos, but unless players think they are good, they’re not going to be good.

LP: When I managed, I told my best players that the rest of the team is looking up to them, so try to help the manager and the coaching staff in areas where we needed help. I let them play and tried to stay out of their way.