‘The Boss’ hon­ored at Yan­kee Sta­dium

Pregame cer­e­mony pays trib­ute to late Stein­bren­ner

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Ron­ald Blum

NEW YORK — Mar­i­ano Rivera laid two long-stemmed red roses across home plate. Tears filled Joe Gi­rardi’s eyes. Derek Jeter’s face was flush with emo­tion.

As fans stood through “Taps” and a two-minute moment of si­lence, the 27 World Se­ries cham­pi­onship flags that Ge­orge Stein­bren­ner cher­ished could be heard flap­ping at half-staff to­ward cen­ter field from the top of Yan­kee Sta­dium in the stiff breeze.

The New York Yan­kees cel­e­brated the life of “The Boss” with a solemn 15minute pregame trib­ute Fri­day night that in­cluded an vivid re­mem­brance from Jeter, spo­ken to the crowd of 47,524 from be­hind the plate be­fore New York beat Tampa Bay 5-4.

Stein­bren­ner, the team’s driv­ing and blus­tery owner, died Tues­day, two days af­ter the death of Bob Shep­pard, Yan­kee Sta­dium’s long­time pub­lic-ad­dress an­nouncer. New York re­turned home fol­low­ing the All-Star break to mark what both meant to a fran­chise ob­sessed with its tra­di­tion.

“We gather here tonight to honor two men who were both shin­ing stars in the Yan­kee uni­verse,” Jeter said as team­mates and the Rays stood ram­rod straight,

Con­tin­ued from C caps off, in front of their dugouts. “Both men, Mr. Ge­orge Stein­bren­ner and Mr. Bob Shep­pard, cared deeply about their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to this or­ga­ni­za­tion and to our fans, and for that, will be for­ever re­mem­bered in base­ball his­tory and in our hearts.”

The new ball­park, opened last year in one of Stein­bren­ner’s fi­nal acts, could not have been qui­eter. Yan­kees ex­ec­u­tives in busi­ness suits watched somberly from be­hind the plate.

“Sim­ply put,” Jeter said, “Mr. Stein­bren­ner and Mr. Shep­pard both left this or­ga­ni­za­tion in a much bet­ter place than when they first ar­rived. They’ve set the ex­am­ple for all em­ploy­ees of the New York Yan­kees to strive to fol­low.”

Stein­bren­ner died of a heart at­tack at age 80 af­ter 37½ years as owner of Amer­ica’s most fa­mous team.

Shep­pard, whose el­e­gant and boom­ing introductions gave old Yan­kee Sta­dium its voice from 1951-2007, was 99 when he died. In his honor, Yan­kees pitcher Mar­i­ano Rivera drops roses at home plate in honor of le­gendary Yan­kees owner Ge­orge Stein­bren­ner and long time Yan­kees an­nouncer Bob Shep­pard be­fore a game Fri­day. there were no introductions of bat­ters dur­ing Fri­day’s game, and the of­ten-ob­tru­sive mu­sic that punc­tu­ates evenings in the Bronx went silent.

Stein­bren­ner’s fu­neral was sched­uled for Satur­day in Tampa, Fla., and was to be pri­vate. More cer­e­monies were to take place Satur­day at Old-Timers Day, and pub­lic memo­ri­als were un­der dis­cus- sion for later dates in Florida and New York.

Through­out the day, an im­promptu trib­ute un­folded at the main en­trance be­hind home plate, where the fa­mous in­ter­lock­ing “NY” logo is etched in stone.

Bou­quets, me­mo­rial can­dles, news­pa­per clip­pings, hats, jer­seys and sou­venirs of World Se­ries ti­tles were placed there in trib­ute, along with one old base­ball.

Yan­kees fan Peter Gold­schmidt teared up.

“Ge­orge was al­ways like, for me, Santa Claus. He al­ways brought me what I wanted,” said the 46-year-old from New Mil­ford, N.J. “Free agents, World Se­ries cham­pi­onships, a new sta­dium. What­ever the fans wanted, he brought us.”

Kevin P. Cough­lin

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