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Reflecting on NY's Pinstripe Bowl

Reflecting on NY's Pinstripe Bowl

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi in 2016. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

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Wednesday, 04 January 2017 02:01 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Last week my editor, Joe McDonald, asked me to go to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. I thought that it would be cool considering I had never covered a football game.

I walked the streets of the Bronx and felt the enthusiasm of an October playoff game.

People from Chicago and Pittsburgh were all over the streets. I actually wanted to go because I heard that Joe Girardi was going to be there so I was hoping to interview him for my radio show. I never realized the magnitude of this game.

When I walked into the stadium, I went right to the press conference and sitting at the podium was team president, Randy Levine, Joe Girardi, and the team officials for both Northwestern and Pittsburgh. When the president of Northwestern thanked coach Steinbrenner, it was the first time that I heard that the boss had actually been an assistant coach there in 1955, the year that I was born. I didn’t know that co-owner Hal Steinbrenner had Northwestern's president, Morton Schapiro, as a professor when he attended Williams College.

Just when you think you know everything about the people you love, things pop up. It was really terrific to hear how involved the Steinbrenner family really are all over the country in sports and education.

I was very enlightened by this press conference which in turn really excited me in watching this great game.

On the 58th anniversary of the "greatest" game ever played, (the 1958 NFL championship game at the old Yankee Stadium), the New Era Pinstripe bowl at new Yankee Stadium took place. For the Big 10 Northwestern Wildcats and the ACC Pitt Panthers, it would be the seventh time these two teams have met, with each winning three of the previous encounters.

The last time in 1973 and this being their first meeting in a bowl game.

The crowd of 37,918, hunkered down in their seats on a breezy 39 degree day in the Bronx, where they watched a very well executed game between two closely matched teams. A battle that saw Northwestern running back Justin Jackson rush for 226 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman throw for 217 yards in the first half and finish with 253 yards passing.

Also, Northwestern's Biletnikof finalist Austin Carr caught six passes for 51 yards. Six passes doesn’t seem like a lot, but Pitt having to key on Carr, allowed Jackson to run wild, and take home the David C.Koch MVP award.

Unfortunately for Peterman and his Pitt Panthers, he was sidelined with a concussion early in the third quarter, which hurt the Panthers big time. He was replaced by red-shirt freshman Ben DiNucci, who passed for only 16 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions late in the game.

That was, like daggers to the heart for the huge enthusiastic fans from the steel city. Both turnovers came in the red zone and ended any hope of a comeback for Pitt. As the clock ran down.

All six previous games between these two schools, have been decided by close contests and with the final score of 31 to 24 Northwestern, it was no exception. The Lions made fewer costly mistakes than Pitt, who left too many points on the field. Including a missed field goal, by a kid with the worst name for a kicker, Chris Blewitt. I kid you not.

The Northwestern offensive line allowed four sacks, yet were able to open holes for Jackson that as coach Pat Fitzgerald said in his post-game conference, "You could drive a truck through."

Fitzgerald also thanked Danny Kanell and the ESPN crew that said the Cat’s should just be happy to be here and that their motivation would be low. "That was a video I showed the guys when we showed up here in New York. I think it put things in perspective for where we're at and it was the last thing we saw video-wise today. Cannot thank that group of three men enough. I'm proud to blow out their bowl season predictions."

Trying to predict a college bowl game, is like trying to guess how many pits are in a pumpkin.

Another championship for a Chicago team today, but as we left the building, to the sound of Frank Sinatra singing "New York, New York," we could easily have heard Sinatra singing "My Kind of Town" and let’s not forget what Carly Simon once said, "Nobody Does it Better."

Nobody throws a party like the Yankees.

Special Thanks to the Steinbrenner family for hosting such a wonderful event, Yankee team President, Randy Levine for never forgetting the spirit of our leader George M. Steinbrenner III who is smiling down on such a great event.

Special thanks also to Billy Coppola for contributing to this story.

Ray Negron is a sports executive with over 40 years of experience in baseball. His first job came from a chance encounter with George Steinbrenner as a youth. He has become an American film producer, a best-selling author, and a philanthropist. His memoir is entitled, "Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers.” For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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RayNegron
Last week my editor, Joe McDonald, asked me to go to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. I thought that it would be cool considering I had never covered a football game.
girardi, pinstripe, N.Y., yankees
866
2017-01-04
Wednesday, 04 January 2017 02:01 PM
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