Please allow me the liberty to stray from hockey for this blog entry. With the passing of George Steinbrenner, legendary owner of the New York Yankees, earlier today, I’d like to share a story about a meeting that I had with him early in my baseball career.
It was either 1989 or 1990 and I was sitting on the couch which doubled as my desk in our less than spectacular offices at County Stadium. From my seat I could see down the hallway outside our office which lead to Bud Selig’s office which was right next door to us. Always important to keep the PR department close to the owner in case of an emergency.
I heard a familiar voice coming down the hallway. Sure enough, it was George Steinbrenner who was in town to visit with Mr. Selig. We all heard it. Needless to say all of the chatter in our office stopped as the voice neared. I caught a glimpse of him walking past and then felt comfortable exhaling. We all just smiled as we looked at each other knowing that someone powerful was on his way to see Mr. Selig.
We all stopped breathing again when suddenly he made an appearance in our office. Was it that he wanted to visit the best PR department in baseball? No, although we were, it was that he saw the giant jar of M&M’s that was kept on top of Betsy Billerbeck’s desk. Betsy was our world-class administrative assistant and she sat in our outer office.
In that booming voice that so many people have come to know, he spoke.
“Can I have some of these M&M’s?”
Stunned. Shocked. Scared. We all nodded in the affirmative. No one spoke.
He took a handful and walked out making his way back to Mr. Selig’s office.
After he left and we started to breathe again we realized that there was a possibility that he might come back after his meeting was over. There was a mad sprint to clean the office and make it look presentable. The office was never that organized again and we did it in 20 minutes. He never came back but we’d have been ready.
Looking back it was a pleasant encounter with one of the most powerful men in the history of professional sports. And he liked M&M’s just like I did.
Rest in peace Mr. Steinbrenner. Enjoy your M&M’s in Heaven