NY Post: Post sports writer Peter Botte is the author of “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the New York Yankees” (available in paperback Tuesday), an entry in the popular “Big 50” sports books series. This excerpt is taken from Chapter 49: “George Costanza.”
In a new book, Larry David shared some inside stories on the infamous Yankees-Seinfeld connection that the sitcom showcased through the years. From George's job with the Yankees, to shooting scenes with players, to Larry David's portrayal of George Steinbrenner. Here are some of the highlights from the article.
And so began Costanza’s run as the Yankees’ assistant to the traveling secretary, a storyline that lent itself to the Seinfeld writers exploring how outlandishly they could go with their over-the-top parody of Steinbrenner. Seinfeld and David received The Boss’ approval to use his likeness and the Yankees’ brand.
“He thought we were making fun of him, thinking he was George Costanza. He didn’t know much about the show before we approached him. He didn’t realize that there already was this character named George for five years,” David said. “There must’ve been at least one big Seinfeld fan in his immediate family who told him he should do it.”
Pretty incredible that George Steinbrenner heard a character had the same first name as him and just immediately assumed that the character in America's top sitcom was based off of him. Love that from The Boss.
Indeed, Steinbrenner told Ira Berkow of The New York Times in 1996 that his grandchildren thought it was “cooler” that he was depicted in Seinfeld than “anything else I did in my life,” including owning the Yankees. And while Hal Steinbrenner described to me his own television viewing habits as “more of a History Channel and Discovery Channel buff than a sitcom guy,” George’s youngest son allowed that he and the rest of the family thought Seinfeld and their patriarch’s inclusion was “really very funny.” “That’s nice to hear,” David told me. “I’m glad they liked it at least.”
Even George Steinbrenner appreciated the humor after allowing his name and likeness to be used and lampooned throughout the series. “I was prepared not to like it, but I came away laughing my head off,” Steinbrenner told The Times. “Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re in bad shape. We need more laughs today. I go to too many funerals and not enough birthday parties.”
Owning the Yankees would be enough to impress most people, but not the Steinbrenner grandchildren. A lot of people as rich and powerful as George Steinbrenner could've easily been annoyed at their portrayal on national, but he just laughed it off. He also gives us one hell of a quote her with "I go to too many funerals and not enough birthday parties."
The real Steinbrenner actually filmed one scene in front of the camera with Louis-Dreyfus for the Season Seven finale titled “The Invitations,” in which he volunteers to accompany her to Costanza’s wedding. David and Seinfeld ultimately decided not to use the scene, but someone had to tell The Boss. “It was much funnier just to see him from the back with my voice than to see him act, but I had to be the one to tell him that,” David said. “He said in that famous voice of his, ‘You can tell me. I can take it like a man.’ So I said, ‘Look, I’m sorry, Mr. Steinbrenner. We have to cut you from the show. I just wanted to let you know.’ He didn’t seem that disappointed about it. It just didn’t work.”
If it exists out there somewhere, I would pay a significant amount of money to hear the audio of Larry David telling George Steinbrenner that they're cutting his scene from the show. That in itself could almost be an entire episode on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
The whole article has a lot more interesting behind-the-scenes stuff on all this. I'm obviously biased, but the Yankees connection is just another reason Seinfeld is one of the greatest shows of all-time.