In a shocking and unprecedented development, the New York Yankees will announce that Chatsworth (Skippy) Steinbrenner, the 10-year-old grandson of outgoing majority owner George Steinbrenner, will assume control of the team.
This newspaper has learned exclusively that late last night, in his final act as managing partner of the Yankees, the elder Steinbrenner unexpectedly telephoned his 33-year-old son, Hank Steinbrenner, to tell him that he was being fired.
"Hank's been an OK son, but it's time to try somebody new," George said.
Skippy Steinbrenner, a fifth-grader at the Son of the Rich Military Academy in Florida, is scheduled to meet with Commissioner Fay Vincent sometime this weekend, when the commissioner is expected to acquaint young Steinbrenner with some basic information about major league baseball and probably buy him some ice cream.
Vincent also released a statement saying he was seriously thinking of going back into the movie business, where "everybody is normal."
Reaction was immediate and mixed among Yankee players to the news that they will now be working for a 10-year-old.
"How can we tell the difference?" one asked.
Skippy Steinbrenner has spent parts of his past two summers at Yankee Stadium, where he rode through the office hallways on a skateboard and snitched to his grandpa about the work habits of several secretaries.
Behind his back around the office, Skippy was referred to as "a chip off the old blockhead."
But George Steinbrenner, encouraged by the permission he received from Vincent to keep control of the Yankees in the family, decided that his grandson was the obvious choice to maintain a Yankee tradition of nearly 20 years of childish behavior.
"At first I was inclined to nominate my son, Hank, to be president of the team," George said. "But then I thought, 'Nah, what's he done for me lately?' "
Hank Steinbrenner's reply to reporters was simple: "Father knows worst."
There was, however, a reported scene between Hank and Skippy Steinbrenner, who evidently got into a heated argument in the Yankee Stadium elevator.
According to reliable sources, Hank complained about having the Yankees taken away from him, saying: "I have earned the right to run a major league baseball franchise. I'm rich."
To which Skippy replied: "Don't have a cow, man."
Various owners around baseball, when contacted about the change in Yankee ownership, seemed to welcome the 10-year-old Skippy Steinbrenner as a prospective owner. One contended that having worked with Charlie Finley, having a real child around throwing tantrums would be no big deal.
There was immediate speculation, of course, that these owners were eager to take advantage of Skippy Steinbrenner in trades--acquiring Don Mattingly from him for, say, two authentic Darryl Strawberry autographed baseball cards, or three magic beans.
Skippy Steinbrenner merely claimed he was looking forward to working with "all them old dudes."
In New York, fans, players and critics were still wondering how the commissioner could have seen fit to ban George Steinbrenner from active participation in the operation of the New York Yankees while nevertheless permitting a blood relative to run the organization. How could George be told not to give advice to his own kid?
Indeed, Hank Steinbrenner claimed that the first time he mentioned the possibility of not firing the Yankee manager or trading anybody on the roster, his father took him out to the Yankee Stadium woodshed and spanked him.
George swore, however, that he would not interfere with the family business, and seemed sincere, although his nose grew.
In selecting Skippy to be managing partner of the ballclub, the Yankees are anticipating several major changes, including the immediate replacement of Robert Merrill as singer of the national anthem. He reportedly will be succeeded by something called New Kids on the Block.
Skippy Steinbrenner also has decreed that everybody on the team wear No. 7 from now on, because he told everybody that he thinks No. 7 is really bitchin'.
The commissioner has given the change of ownership his complete approval, pending the results of an investigation that Skippy Steinbrenner gave somebody named Howie Spira Jr. his milk money.
The new Yankee management already is expecting a sellout crowd in early September for the new owner's first big promotion, Excellent Babes Night, in which all cute elementary-school girls and cool party dudes get in free.