The year was 1989. A group of luminaries had gathered to schmooze aboard the USS Intrepid, the World War II-era aircraft carrier on the west side of Manhattan. Among them: Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and then-FBI director William Sessions. The two men couldn't have been more dissimilar. Steinbrenner was a swaggering, recently pardoned felon. Sessions was his Eagle Scout antonym. But there they were, meeting for the first time on a floating museum. For a brief while, they were thrown together by fate. This is their story. It's not long. But it is an entertaining anecdote about the behavior of baseball's most ignominious owner.
As described in a prior post, we obtained a cache of Steinbrenner-related FBI documents after I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request while reporting a story about Howie Spira, the gambler who sold dirt on Dave Winfield to Steinbrenner in the '80s. (You can read about the sordid affair here.) When the skullduggery became public, the FBI arrested Spira, who was convicted of extorting Steinbrenner, who, in turn, was banned from baseball. Media reports that Steinbrenner used his FBI contacts to impel an indictment of Spira triggered an internal FBI investigation into Steinbrenner's association with the bureau's Tampa office. The documents we have are from that investigation. They arrived after we published my story, but they still show how Steinbrenner could make his personal planet spin a little easier on its axis. (In case you're wondering, the FBI somehow found itself innocent of any wrongdoing.)