The intriguing thing about George Steinbrenner was always the contrast between his bombast and humanity. His mean-spiritedness was tempered only by the warmth and generosity he was capable of displaying in equal measure. Nowhere was his vulnerability more on display than in his relationship with Mary Jane Schriner (nee Elster), a young coed he met in 1949 and corresponded with for several years before both grew up and settled down with others. What was so touching about their relationship was its ambiguity; neither was ever sure if they were just friends or romantically involved. As happens often, the unspoken went unsaid for so long that it eventually became too late to ever say it. Schriner died last week, leaving behind a cache of correspondence the young Steinbrenner wrote to her over their four year courtship, decades before the young man was ever The Boss.

(image/New York Yankees, MLB)