Steven Lane: The man who has a lovefest with the Yankees
Steven Lane committed the ultimate sin.
He rooted for the Yankees when he lived in Brooklyn, soon after the Dodgers had left but when anti-Yankee feeling was still widespread in the borough.
“I was always interested in baseball,” said the 66-year-old Lane from his law office in New Orleans. “My dad took me to see the Yankees play in 1961 when I was 6 years old.”
The kid who attended P.S. 199 and Cunningham Junior High School admits now that he took some heavy abuse from not only Dodger fans, but the new breed – Mets fans when they arrived in 1962.
“I was hooked on the Yankees, and in particular Mickey Mantle,” he said. “I’d go to the neighborhood deli, buy a pack of Topps baseball cards, keep the Yankee cards and trade away Willie Mays and Sandy Koufax.”
Living on 1319 East 10th Street and later moving to 1580 East 13th Street – around Kings Highway and Coney Island Avenue – Lane was supposed to be a Yankee hater.
And no matter how hard he tried – he just couldn’t.
It was a February Fan Festival that pushed Lane from an avid fan to a full-blown fanatic.
“We’d get autographs for free at the festival from Mantle, Whitey Ford and all the Yankees, and soon I was building up a collection.”
Not a collection – a self-made dynasty.
After high school – James Madison — the family moved to Oceanside, Long Island. Lane received his B.A. from the State University of New York at Buffalo, in 1977.
He received his J.D. from Loyola University School of Law in 1980.
And then his collection grew — “I started buying better stuff,” he admits.
He’s probably the only person in New Orleans collecting Yankee memorabilia, and as luck would have it, he came in contact with the man who demolished the old Yankee Stadium.
“Jay Schwall, president of Invirex, was the man former Yankee owner (George Steinbrenner) hired to rip out the inside of the old stadium. He called me, said to meet me at the warehouse and I could take anything I want.”
He did – and boy, did he ever.
Lane is the proud possessor of the 1972 architect’s drawings of new Yankee Stadium, has 1977 Yankee yearbooks, team photos from the ’50s, the actual home plate from the stadium bullpen – which he sold at auction for $350,000.
Steven Lane made the big-time.
But it was Mantle who still haunted him.
“I’ve tried tracing his life though memorabilia,” he said. “I have the first studio photo (1943) taken when Mantle was 12, and the first baseball he signed in 1949 when he was in the minor leagues.”
Lane has Mantle’s 535th career home-run ball – the shot that pitcher Denny McLean grooved to him and pushed Mantle’s record past that of Jimmy Foxx.
Oh, there’s more.
How about a Mickey Mantle 1963 game-worn glove? “I got that from Mickey’s sons – David and Danny.”
And a ball signed by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays and Mantle.
What about Mantle’s sophomore high school newspaper – from Commerce, Oklahoma – signed by Mickey Chuck Mantle?
“It was the only time he signed Chuck,” Lane said. “He always signed Charles.”
In 1973 Lane said the Yankees had seats from the old stadium for sale. “They had an ad in the newspaper, I went to E.J. Korvettes and bought one for $7.50 and a carton of Marlboro cigarettes. “That was the deal,” he said, “My grandma smoked Marlboros.”
But the real question is where Steven Lane keeps this treasure.
“I have not one, but two vaults, and they’re under lock and key, all cataloged and insured.”
He said he offered to put some of his collection in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. on loan, and even offered some back to the Yankees for their own Hall of Fame display.
“I was told due to the pandemic there was no place in the Yankee Museum or the Hall of Fame.”
Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected].
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