Goose Gossage and Bucky Dent sat for a bit in a pair of old Yankee Stadium seats outside the Steiner Sports Store inside the Roosevelt Field Mall. There was a window display behind the two 64-year-old former Yankees, a case filled with the late Yogi Berra’s memorabilia.
The old-school guys were there Wednesday night for an autograph session and the unveiling of some items from a traveling Berra collection. Guys such as Bryce Harper are from baseball’s new school. The Nationals star is appealing Wednesday’s one-game suspension for returning after an ejection and cursing an umpire following a walk-off homer. In March, Harper stated in ESPN The Magazine that baseball was a “tired” sport because it didn’t allow for self-expression like other sports.
“I’m not going to get into anything with Harper,” Gossage told Newsday. “He’s a kid, doesn’t know.”
The Hall of Fame reliever knows the new-school approach isn’t for him. Gossage made headlines in March when he ripped the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista for his bodacious bat flip in the playoffs.
“We were passed the torch by the older guys we played with, the veterans,” Gossage said. “Today the torch is not being passed, in all senses, to make sure that [the game’s] respected. Coaches tiptoe around these guys . . . No coach tiptoed around us when we made $12,000.”
Players are protected more. Take the new slide rule.
“I don’t like the state of the game right now,” Gossage said. “It’s a different game. I don’t know what they’re trying to do to the game.”
Gossage, though, spoke fondly of Berra: “There’s only one Yogi Berra — unique and a great guy. He’s sorely missed by all of us.”
Berra, the 10-time champ with the Yankees, died last September. Thursday would’ve been his 91st birthday. Brandon Steiner, the CEO of Steiner Sports, announced last month that his company had acquired the exclusive licensing rights to the Yogi Berra name and likeness from his family.
Berra’s 1961 Yankees jersey and his jersey from his Astros coaching days hung in the window and will be among items from his personal collection up for auction Sept. 12-Oct. 8 on steinersports.com. The company is also making Berra collectibles, such as patches, emojis and pieces featuring his sayings.
“Our creative team is coming up with all kinds of memorabilia,” said Ed Schauder, Steiner’s executive vice president of licensing and general counsel.
Some merchandise will be available starting Thursday via the Garden City store and the website, and eventually at Yankee Stadium. Yankees jerseys with the No. 8 memorial patch are expected to be available later this month. Dent thinks fans will enjoy having Berra memorabilia, saying, “He’s a legend . . . He was just a beautiful guy.”