The New York Yankees have crushed efforts to publish 60-year-old "puppy love" letters between a pretty 16-year-old Ohio girl and a smitten college-age George Steinbrenner, the elderly woman’s family was quoted as saying in the New York Post reported Friday.
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Mary Jane Schriner, 78, had hoped to finally write about her long-ago relationship with Yankees owner Steinbrenner after his death last July — stunning even her own family when she produced 19 letters the future Boss wrote her between 1949 and 1952.
"We were just kids — we were friends," she said Thursday night from her home in Westlake, Ohio.
Her son, Michael Schriner, said, "It was puppy love, but more about the innocence than about the passion of two people. They held hands and they kissed."
Michael Schriner said his mom’s dream to write about her first boyfriend was batted down by the Yankees organization, which refused to give permission to reprint the romantic epistles. Copyright laws prevent Mary Jane Schriner from publishing them on her own.
"She thought, ‘Well, gosh, not only could I tell a really good story about a great guy, I could write it,’" Michael Schriner said. "Instead, it turned into a huge adversarial thing. It upset her."
Yankee Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost "could not have been more of a bully," the son said.
The courtship letters of 16-year-old Mary Jane Elster and 18-year-old George Steinbrenner showed a whole new side to the legendary Boss, the son said.
"When the news came on that George had died, she asked us if we wanted to see something," Schriner said.
"She pulled a stack of letters from George … out of her dresser. Years ago, she told us she had dated George, but we never paid much attention to it. She saved 19 letters — she probably got 40, 50, 60 of them."
The correspondence, he said, also reveals a little-known side of Steinbrenner — one "much more like the fun-loving character from ‘Seinfeld’ that people would warm up to than anything he was later portrayed to be."
Yankee spokeswoman Alice McGillion said the decision to refuse publication was a "sensitivity issue," calling the documents "personal letters from George" and "not letters that we want published."