61-Year-Old Letter From George Steinbrenner to be Auctioned
Mary Jane Elster (now Schriner) was a typical teen living in Bay Village, OH in 1949. That year, a new family moved to town. Sixteen-year-old Mary Jane befriended the family's son, a young man named George Steinbrenner. When Steinbrenner went away to college at Williams in the 1950s, they maintained their relationship by corresponding though the mail. The two lost touch over time but Mary Jane kept these letters in a dresser for many years until the iconic former Yankees owner passed away on July 13th, 2010.
Following Steinbrenner's death, Schriner felt it was appropriate to make the letters public because they dealt with such a prolific public personality. This is where she ran into a problem. Although she possessed ownership of the letters, as the writer, George Steinbrenner retained the copyright on them. After his death, that copyright was passed on to his heirs. The Steinbrenner family blocked Schriner's attempts to have the letters published in a book. Schriner also wanted to have them displayed at the Baseball Hall of Fame, but the Steinbrenners blocked that as well.
Schriner says these 19 surviving letters show a softer side to a man who is viewed as rough around the edges and was well-known for the aggressive way he ran the New York Yankees. They do not appear to contain anything controversial, which makes the fact that the Steinbrenner family keeps blocking their publishing, all the more curious.
Now, Mary Jane just wants them to be enjoyed by a collector and plans to sell them on eBay, one at a time. The first letter is currently up on the site. Bidding ends May 22nd. More information about these unique pieces of history can be found at Mary Jane Schriner's blog.