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Yankee greats share memories

July 18, 2010

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— Many great Yankees were on the field wearing the famous pinstripes again, now with special memorial patches in honor of George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard.

Amid all the tributes of the past week since the owner’s death, Goose Gossage tried to lend some perspective, to contrast the beloved father figure of Steinbrenner’s later years with the tempest who shook up New York, baseball and all of sports in his uninhibited younger days.

“The last decade or decade and a half, I just don’t think he was as tough as he was when we were there, crazy or whatever you want to call it. He was crazy,” Gossage said Saturday. “He was off the charts. The craziest thing about George was the more you won, the crazier he got. Most people are like satisfied, and he got crazier.”

Unless you were there, you wouldn’t understand. That was the era when Gossage labeled “The Boss” “The Fat Man” during a clubhouse rant.

While Steinbrenner’s casket was being placed in a mausoleum during a private service in Trinity, Fla., the Yankees held their 64th Old-Timers Day, a ritual celebration of pinstripes, titles and the tradition handed from Ruth and Gehrig, to DiMaggio to Berra and Mantle, and now to Jeter and Rivera.

Yogi Berra was missing after falling the previous night near his home in Montclair, N.J. On a day of reflection and with flags at half-staff, the emotional high was the introduction of Mary Sheppard, the widow of the team’s public announcer from 1951-07. Sheppard died last Sunday, two days before Steinbrenner, the team’s owner since January 1973.

Steinbrenner, as he had in life, dominated proceedings.

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