A Yankees bat boy remembers George Steinbrenner.

Bringing out the dead.
July 13 2010 10:58 PM

The Boss, My First One

A Yankees bat boy remembers George Steinbrenner.

(Continued from Page 1)

"Yeah," he said. "Thanks, George."

Surely Silverio will not survive this, I thought. But after a long moment standing over him, the Boss just turned and walked out. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did. I wonder whether Silverio would have been so lucky if Steinbrenner had caught him lying down after a tough loss. And perhaps a pre-Napoleonic Steinbrenner wouldn't have been so compassionate; countless other employees of the team through the years never received such mercy. But what happened that day reflected the Boss I knew: unpredictable, much feared, and mostly benign.

Advertisement

In April of the 1993 season, my senior year of high school, I started hearing back from the colleges where I'd applied the previous fall. The best school I was admitted to was Williams College, which I learned only then was Steinbrenner's alma mater. When it seemed as if my parents would not be able to afford the steep tuition—even then, nearly $30,000 a year—someone in the front office suggested I write a letter to the Boss asking for help paying for books and lab fees. I wrote the letter, not really expecting much from this man whom I had never spoken to and regarded with a great deal of apprehension, as any teenage Yankee fan and grateful employee might.

A few weeks later, the team's equipment manager Nick Priore told me I was wanted upstairs, in the team's front office. I had never been summoned there before.

"Did Nick tell you why I called you up here?" the Yankees' general counsel asked.

"No," I said.

"Well," he said, "Mr. Steinbrenner received your letter, and the Yankees Foundation has decided to give you a $10,000 scholarship for your first year of college." My mom cried when I called to tell her the news.

The next time I saw Steinbrenner was in the clubhouse a few weeks later. I summoned up the courage to interrupt him as he conducted one of his purposeful walks around the clubhouse. "Boss," I blurted. "I'm Matt, the bat boy you gave the scholarship to, to Williams. I just wanted to thank you." He stopped and reached out and gripped my shoulders tightly with both hands. "I never could have gotten in there today," he told me. After a moment he slapped me on the back and walked away.

Incredibly, the Boss repeated his gift of $10,000 for my sophomore year as well. After I graduated, he sent my father a letter in which he congratulated my parents and wished me all the best. The obituaries and eulogies in the coming days will make note of Steinbrenner's volatility and obsession with winning. Generations of fans will remember him as a legendary owner who changed the way sports franchises are run. As for me, I will always be in his debt.

Like Slate on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Matthew McGough is a screenwriter and the author of Bat Boy: Coming of Age with the New York Yankees.  His Web site is http://matthewmcgough.com/.

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.