George Steinbrenner lived a very aggressive public life. But those close to him say his private side was surprisingly subdued — awash in unexpected humility and generosity.
Just ask thousands of New York’s beneficiaries of his good will.
And as CBS 2 HD found out from one of his oldest friend, “the Boss” didn’t want anyone to know.
Few people knew the private side of Steinbrenner better than Jim Fuchs. Boyhood buddies, Steinbrenner eventually became godfather to Fuchs’ youngest sons. They all got together a few months ago at spring training – just like close friends and confidants.
“He was a very sentimental guy. He didn’t want to show it. He thought it sometimes showed weakness,” Fuchs said.
But despite the tough facade, Fuchs said his friend’s emotions ran deep. He recalled a meeting in 1982 with a distraught Steinbrenner who had just attended a police officer’s funeral. He was particularly concerned about the kids.
“There were four boys and a widow and they folded up the flag and gave it to the widow,” Fuchs said.
He said Steinbrenner was worried about how the fatherless boys would afford an education.
“He said, ‘We have to do something about it.’ I said what do you mean we have to do something about it? He said, ‘What we will do is we have to start a foundation and you run it.’ I said wait a minute, how do you run a foundation? And he said, ‘You get money and you give it away,’” Fuchs said.
Based on that conversation they co-founded the Silver Shield Foundation, helping children of fallen police officers and firefighters pay for school. Kids like Nick Demutiis.
“Growing up without a father is like an extremely tough to go through. You see other kids, their parents take them to baseball games; their dads take them to Little League games and basketball games. I didn’t have that,” Demutiis said.
His dad, Officer Demutiis, was killed when Nick was just 2 years old. Now 19, he just finished his freshman year at Syracuse University with financial help from Steinbrenner’s Silver Shield. He said he knows his father would approve.
“I think he’d definitely be proud of me and definitely proud of the school I wanted to go to,” Demutiis said.
He said he’s learned about manhood from both men – the father who gave his life in the line of duty and Steinbrenner, who gave generously but quietly.
Silver Shield helps families in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Steinbrenner also ran similar foundations in Ohio and Florida.
For more information and how you can donate, please click here.
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