Hank Steinbrenner stood with several kids in pinstripe Yankees jerseys, posing for pictures with them and signing golf balls behind the pro shop at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx.
They were players from “Hank’s Yanks” youth baseball program, and they were attending Monday’s third annual Hank’s Yanks Golf Classic, which benefits those teams. Steinbrenner was the founding sponsor.
The players from Hank’s Yanks in the American League are doing better than expected. Hank, the oldest son of George Steinbrenner, is a general partner for the Yankees (32-22), who will open a three-game series Tuesday night against Boston at Yankee Stadium. They lead the AL East, two games ahead of the Red Sox.
Steinbrenner had been looking ahead to 2018, but now he thinks a World Series crown is possible this fall.
“You never know, even though Houston right now looks like the ’27 Yankees or maybe the ’65 Dodgers with their pitching,” Steinbrenner said. “But you never know this year. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen this year. It sure . . . could, obviously. But we’re hoping to keep growing.
“We’re greedy. We want to win this year. It would be great to win the championship this year. They’re playing great as a team . . . Of course, we’re going to try and win it this year.”
The Yankees have been working in younger position players such as catcher Gary Sanchez, rightfielder Aaron Judge and first baseman Greg Bird, who currently is on the disabled list.
“I wasn’t this confident for this year,” Steinbrenner said. “I told everybody, ‘Look, we’re going to do all right this year. We’re going to be even better next year, maybe by a mile.’ As it turns out, we’re doing really good this year with the mix of the young players and the veterans we have now. I still think it will be even better next year.”
Steinbrenner said manager Joe Girardi is “doing a tremendous job.” The praise also flowed for Judge. “He’s such a perfect Yankee,” Steinbrenner said. “Man, can he hit.”
With so many hot prospects in the system, the Yankees have trade bait if they choose to go that route. “We’ll never do that. I didn’t want to do that in the ’80s, but there was somebody who disagreed with me,” Steinbrenner said of his late dad.
Hank’s major-league Yanks, in his eyes, are in fine shape for years to come.
“It’s going to be good,” he said. “I think it’s nice that when we come up with a top young team and young players, even with revenue-sharing now, which is completely unfair, we can still afford to keep the kids . . . when they become free agents. So if we build a good enough of a base, there’s no telling how long this will go on for.”