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STEINBRENNER'S DREAM REALIZED

By Mark Janssen
 
 
You know the name of the late George Steinbrenner as owner of the New York Yankees, but did you know that he was a past college football coach at Purdue?
 
"I think George was always a football man first," said Lonn Trost, Chief Operating Officer of the New York Yankees. "I know that he's looking down on us today and smiling. One of his dreams with this new stadium was to bring in college football."
 
For the first time since Nebraska defeated Miami, 36-34, in the Dec. 15, 1962, Gotham Bowl, a postseason football bowl game returns to New York City with the playing of the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl at 2:30 (Central time) when K-State plays Syracuse.
 
"Not only did George coach football, but since then he was a big supporter of the College Football Hall of Fame, and was a man who believed that baseball was football," Trost said. "His whole strategic lifestyle was putting football into baseball."
 
The Yankees have made a four-year commitment with the Big East and Big 12 Conferences for the Pinstripe Bowl, but their thinking is for the long haul.
 
"We may be crazy, but we feel we can be a BCS bowl some day," said Mark Holtzman, executive director of the Pinstripe Bowl. "We have the resources and the assets that other bowls do not have. We're into this for the long haul."
 
While first locking in the Big East made sense geographically, the Yankees then targeted the Big 12.
 
"It took some talking and selling because the league is in that Texas belt, but Dan Beebe (Big 12 Commissioner) saw the vision and we quickly had a deal," said Holtzman.
 
The stadium hosted the Army-Note Dame game in November with 54,000-plus in attendance. Thursday, bowl officials are hoping for a crowd of 45,000.
 
"We wanted 40,000 the first year, but there has been great interest," said Holtzman. "If the fans can get here, we're hoping to exceed that goal."
 
TOP 5 YANKEE STADIUM FOOTBALL HAPPENINGS
 
No, it's no longer the "House That Ruth Built" Yankee Stadium that the New Era Pinstripe Bowl will be played in, but New York City and the old Yankee Stadium has hosted some of football's most memorable events.
 
1) GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED - The NFL Championship game on Dec. 28, 1958, when the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants played the first NFL game to go into overtime. The Colts won, 23-17, in what some regard as "The Greatest Game Ever Played."
 
2) WINNING ONE FOR THE GIPPER - While George "The Gipper" Gipp was in the hospital dying of streptococcal throat infection, Notre Dame coach gave his win it for the Gipp halftime speech on Nov. 10, 1928. Notre Dame broke a 0-0 halftime score and defeated Northwestern, 12-6.
 
3) THE TACKLE - On Nov. 9, 1946, No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 1 Army battled to a 0-0 tie made legendary by John Lujack's saving tackle of Doc Blanchard of the cadets.
 
4) THE KICK - In a snowstorm, Pat Summerall kicked a 49-yard field goal on Dec. 14, 1958, to give the Giants a 13-10 win over Cleveland to force a playoff for the NFL East title.
 
5) ON ICE - On Dec. 30, 1956, the Giants romped over the Chicago Bears, 47-7. The game was famous for being played on an icy field in which the Giants wore sneakers instead of cleats.
 
OTHER NOTES:
• Nebraska defeated Miami, 36-34, in 1962 behind George Mira's 321 passing yards. Only 6,166 attended the final Gotham Bowl every played in 14-degree temperatures.
• The final game played at the historic Yankee Stadium was on Sept. 12, 1987, when Central State University defeated Eddie Robinson's Grambling squad, 37-21.