Thinking of deceased Yankees czar George Steinbrenner conjures up images of pennants, World Series rings and eggplant calzones, not love letters—but that's what Mary Jane Schriner remembers. Schriner, nee Elster, became friends with Steinbrenner in 1949, when she was just 16 and the Boss was 18. She says he sent her over 60 letters between then and 1952, and she has 19 of them intact today. Her son, Michael Schriner, told the Post, "It was puppy love, but more about the innocence than about the passion of two people. They held hands and they kissed." Now Schriner wants to write a book about the relationship and publish the letters, but the Yankees are not letting it happen.
Because of copyright laws, Schriner needs the permission of the Yankees organization and Steinbrenner's family to publish the letters. And Lonn Trost, the Yankees’ chief operating officer, told Schriner that it was "insensitive" and "inappropriate" to do so, that “regardless of anyone’s intent,” publication of the letters “will cause untold embarrassment and damages to the Steinbrenner family and the Steinbrenners’ business interests.” Trost also asked the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum not to display any of the letters. All this begs the question: what's so controversial about the letters?
According to Schriner, nothing. “I tried to put myself in George’s wife’s position. Maybe it’s hurtful to hear that someone else had a relationship with him. But I was 16. There’s nothing in those letters to upset her. They’re sort of boring,” she told the Times. According to them, young Steinbrenner "comes off as gentlemanly and impatient," peppering his language with affectionate terms such as “a peach,” “kiddo,” “sport” and “champ,” and concluding one letter with “Pools and Puddles of Purple Passion.” Could the Yankees fear that lurking within the puppy dog prose are carnal Cheever letters ("Last night with you was bliss. I fear my orgasm has left me a cripple. I don't know how I shall ever get back to work.")?