Photo: Michael Schriner
As a young student at Williams College in the 1950’s, George Steinbrenner carried on an affectionate correspondence with a young girl back in his native Ohio.That girl – now 79-year-old Mary Jane Schriner – would like to share those letters with the world. But the New York Yankees are standing in her way.
After Steinbrenner’s death last July, Schriner shared one of the letters and her story with the New York Times. The Yankees objected.
Then she decided she wanted to write a book about her relationship with the future shipping magnate and Major League owner, a book that would include the letters. The Yankees denied her request to publish them.
(Even though the letters belong to Schriner, as the author, Steinbrenner owned the copyright, which passed to his heirs after his death.)
As a final effort to share this legacy with baseball fans everywhere, Schriner offered the 19 remaining letters to the National Baseball Hall Of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Their extensive archive of all of the game’s history would be a prefect resting place for an intimate look at one of the game’s giants.
The Hall of Fame turned her down. Lonn Trost, the Yankees’ chief operating officer, asked them not to display the letters.
In a letter from Trost to the Schriner family, the Yankees say that publication would cause “untold embarrassment and damages to the Steinbrenner family and the Steinbrenners’ business interests.” Mary Jane thinks that perhaps it’s because Steinbrenner’s widow, Joan, doesn’t want to read about memories of George’s old “flame.” The Yankees seem more determined to let nothing slip out that they can’t control.
Michael Schriner, Mary Jane’s son, has shared one of the letters with us, but because of the copyright claim by the Yankees, we can’t show you the whole thing. Which is a shame, because the irony is that the letters themselves are incredibly tame.
Photo: Michael Schriner
It’s true the Schriner was two years younger than Steinbrenner at the time and still a minor, but nothing in the notes could be seen as unseemly or crude. He’s extremely polite and thoughtful and writes mostly of his frat buddies and his football team.At worst, Steinbrenner comes off merely as a lovesick college boy who misses his “good little gal.”
He signed one letter, “Pools and Puddles of Purple Passion, George.” (Ok, that is a little embarrassing.)
In the end, the Yankees over-protection of The Boss’ legacy is merely denying Schriner one last chance to honour her old friend. Since she can’t publish or give the letters to the Hall (and her failing eyesight means she can no longer read them), Schriner hopes to the sell the letters to a collector. The buyer wouldn’t be able to publish the letters either, but at least the memories would live on for baseball fans.
Mary Jane Schriner has also shared some of her first person memories of Steinbrenner on a blog, that you can read here.
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