Monday, June 23, 2008

Beach on the Yankees (do they need a PR expert along with that new stadium?)

It saddens me to say this as a Yankees fan: the public relations people who work for the New York Yankees need to go back to spring training to learn how to improve relations with the public.
Yes, they’ve done it again.
Two months ago, the Yankees organization struck out when it turned away a group of West Haven middle school kids who arrived late for a tour of Yankee Stadium. (Their bus got stuck in traffic, a familiar experience for any of us who have made the mistake of trying to drive to that ballpark instead of using mass transit.)
But then the Red Sox PR folks, seizing on a golden opportunity, promptly invited those kids to Fenway Park, where the kids had a fine old time. Playing catch-up, Yankees management invited the same group back, but wanted them there so early in the morning that the bus would have had to depart West Haven at 6 a.m. So it didn’t happen.
Now, the Yankees PR office is disrespecting one of the descendants of Babe Ruth.
Linda Ruth Tosetti of Durham, Ruth’s granddaughter, recently told me she has written letters to Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, part-owner Hank Steinbrenner and P.R. official Jason Zillo, seeking tickets to a game this season, the final year for "The House that Ruth Built."
It would have been especially nice if the Yankees had allowed her inside for the All-Star Game or the final regular-season game in September.
But no — there was no reply to her letters.
"They seem not to know my grandfather this year," she told me. "They have made it clear in their actions that they only want to know from the ’70s up and that Reggie (Jackson) seems to be the face of the Yankees."
Because of management’s attitude, Tosetti added, "I really do not want to go to Yankee Stadium. I turned down credentials from a second party (not the Yankees) to the All-Star event."
"The way I look at it is, trying to erase Ruth from the Yankees is like trying to erase Lincoln or Washington from U.S. history," Tosetti said. "You can try, but the people will not let it happen."
Tosetti sees a connection between the Yanks’ mediocre season amid ongoing injuries and what management is doing to Ruth’s memory. "They wonder why they are doing so badly. You cannot step on the golden guys that are the bedrock of the Yankees and expect to succeed."
Could it be? Is there now a Ruthian "curse" on the present-day Yanks?
Meanwhile, Tosetti says she is keeping "Babe busy," working on a campaign to have Major League Baseball retire all number 3 uniforms in his honor.
When I called Zillo, he said he had no comment. But I did learn that this weekend the Yankees will present a Babe Ruth Award to Alex Rodriguez, and that Ruth daughter, Julie Stevens, will be there. So maybe they’re on the road to redemption.
On to bowling: In April, I wrote about the new documentary, "Duckpin," a film by three West Haven natives who love duckpin bowling. Soon the people of this area will get a chance to see it; this "retrospective on the history and mystique of duckpin bowling" will be shown July 2 at 6 p.m. at the New Haven Public Library, 133 Elm St. Dave Teodosio, the film’s director and editor, will be there to discuss the making of the film. The event is free.
After I wrote about the need for us to slow down in order to save gas, save money and be safer, Livable City Initiative neighborhood specialist Elaine Braffman sent me an e-mail reporting she has been experimenting with staying at 25 mph or less in New Haven as well as leaving from a red to green light more slowly.
"It has made a very big difference with my gas gauge going down slower," she noted. But guess what: other drivers don’t like what she’s doing.
"I never realized how rude, aggressive and nasty other drivers are," she said. "One would think going the actual speed limit is a crime. However, let them honk, scream, ride my fender and give me the finger as they pass me by. If they have extra gas money to burn, so be it."
Randall Beach can be reached at or 789-5766.

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