In the late 1970s and early 80s, my Miami-based video production company, Television Matrix, went to New York Yankee spring training each year at Fort Lauderdale Stadium to shoot video for WPIX-TV in New York City. Though never a big fan of baseball, I met many of baseball's legends in that ballpark.
Sitting in the stands at times were Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra. One time, when another television crew didn’t show up, we shot a public service announcement for Reggie Jackson. It was a Yankee fan's dream.
But it was a seemingly minor event one day that I most remember. George Steinbrenner, with some time on his hands, entered a batting cage and started hitting baseballs. I was standing nearby at the time and shot some video of the Yankee owner, alone, having a good time knocking around a few baseballs.
I thought nothing of the footage, until I called WPIX to report on what we had shot that day. I casually mentioned the batting cage footage. “You have what?” shouted our contact at WPIX. He then told me that no one had ever seen Steinbrenner hitting balls in a batting cage. Well, I did, I told him.
At that moment, in the way television news did in the days when it was flush with money, the station arranged for a plane to fly the footage to New York, where it aired on the evening news. I never saw the video because it all went by so quickly. But I learned that day to always keep an eye on George Steinbrenner.
New York Yankee Spring Training at Ft. Lauderdale Stadium