The guest of honor was not in attendance. George Steinbrenner was not here to witness the first World Series championship in the House That George Built.
Steinbrenner, 79, is in failing health. He made the trip from his Florida home for the first two games of the World Series, but he watched the clincher on television.
“He was just teary-eyed, very emotional,” said Hank Steinbrenner, who said he spoke with his father via telephone. George Steinbrenner retired from active management last year, naming sons Hank and Hal as the Yankees co-chairpersons.
As the celebration wound down at Yankee Stadium, with the field and the stands almost cleared out, the video board displayed a picture of the World Series trophy, with this message: “Boss, this is for you.”
“George Steinbrenner and his family are champions,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said. “To be able to deliver this to the Boss, with the stadium that he created and the atmosphere he has created around here, is very gratifying for all of us.”
Thanks and so long?
World Series most valuable player Hideki Matsui joined the Yankees in 2003, after a stellar career as a slugger in Japan. While Japanese pitchers and singles hitters had jumped to the major leagues and done well, power hitters had not.
Matsui shouldered the hopes of an entire country, and a small army of Japanese reporters trailed him wherever he went. He handled the reporters with grace and handled American League pitchers with relative ease, hitting at least 23 home runs in all but one of his injury-free seasons.
He is eligible for free agency this fall, and he is 35. He might not return, but he would love the chance.
“I love New York,” he told the crowd. “I love the Yankees. I love the fans here.”
Jose Molina, the Yankees’ backup catcher, moved into the family lead with two World Series rings. His more acclaimed catching brothers, Bengie and Yadier, have one ring apiece, Bengie from the 2002 Angels and Yadier from the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals.
Jose backed up his brother in 2002. This championship, he said, is dedicated to his father, Benjamin, who died last fall after suffering a stroke while coaching baseball in Puerto Rico, on the same field where he taught the game to his three sons.
“He’s my inspiration, every time I go out there,” Jose said. “He always will be. He’s the one who raised us and taught us how to play.”
Victory for sale
Never has a major league game been played beyond Nov. 4. The Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks played Game 7 of the 2001 World Series on that date, in a season delayed one week because of the 9/11 attacks.
Under an agreement to delay the World Series to accommodate Fox, November baseball could become the rule rather than the exception.
That led to a rare parlay here this week. Election Day was over, and baseball season was not.
New York’s billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, won re-election on Tuesday. Bloomberg financed his re-election campaign for $90 million, the New York Times reported. His opponent spent less than $6 million.
“The Yankees buy pennants and we buy mayoralties,” Ken Ficara, a New York web developer, told the Times.