Yogi likes ESPN's Yank docu
Reviews have been mixed for Tuesday night's ESPN "30 for 30" entry, "The House of Steinbrenner," in which Oscar-winner Barbara Kopple chronicles the transitions from the old to new Yankee Stadiums and from the Boss to a new generation of Steinbrenner leadership.
Diehard Yankees fans figure to enjoy the syrupy tributes to the old ballpark and the team from long-time fans and employees, but the most revealing segment is an interview with Hal Steinbrenner, who frankly discusses his personality quirks and the vast differences between him and his father.
What about his brother Hank? Kopple told me she tried to get him on camera.
"I think he's shy," she said. "He almost said yes. We went to Tampa. He's a musician. I sent him my film on Woodstock. I sent him everything I could possibly think of, and he just didn't do it. I tried. I never leave a stone unturned."
As for the Hal interview, she said, "Nobody knows Hal. People know George. I don't think people really have a sense yet of who Hal really is. I think he was maybe more intimate than he realized."
I asked Kopple about how she tried to juggle the various themes covered in the film, as its lack of focus has been a common source of criticism.
"It all went part and parcel with what the film was about," she said. "When the old stadium is closing, that's sort of the end of the Steinbrenner era of George. And the new stadium is the kids' era."
Kopple on the Boss' death: "I was absolutely shocked by it. I was sitting in my kitchen and it was early in the morning and I heard George Steinbrenner was in critical condition, then a little later that he died.
"My inclination was to run to the stadium to see what was happening and talk to people."
I spoke to Kopple at a screening of the film at the Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls, N.J., Sept. 7.
Yogi was there. I asked him what he thought of it.
"I liked it," he said. "I hated to see the old stadium go down; I liked the old stadium. Hal is a pretty good guy. He and his sisters and brother are good. Hal is very good."
Yogi on recovering from a recent fall: "I'm learning to walk again. But I'm getting around a little better."