Jack Lawn, former vice president and chief of operations for the New York Yankees, who had earlier served the United States as special agent of the FBI and administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), spoke to the Men’s Breakfast recently. Introduced by his friend, Carolina Meadows resident Fred Bowman, the speaker compressed expertly into his allotted time one fascinating story after another relating to his uniquely interesting and wide-ranging careers, especially his four years with the Yankees.
George Steinbrenner, late president of the Yankees, famously liked having his own way. He relentlessly recruited Jack Lawn from DEA to become his second in command, obviously liked him, and relied on him to carry out the boss’s orders. We got the impression that the boss, known to be a bully, respected Lawn and gave him requisite leeway to run the operations, while honoring the boss’s whims. This partnership flourished from March 1990 to March 1994. Jack enjoyed telling us how he helped persuade Steinbrenner to write a huge check to help pay for UNC-Chapel Hill’s beautiful baseball stadium, featuring the George Steinbrenner Plaza. George’s family still supports UNC.
Jack’s talk included affectionate references to his family and an emotional reference to the death of his son, Kevin. Those of us who love major league baseball reveled in his references to Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto, Dave Winfield, and Joe DiMaggio. Jack told the story of introducing his daughter to Joe DiMaggio, asking her if she knew who Joe was, and receiving her answer, “Marilyn Monroe’s husband.”
Jack brought with him and passed around the room two of his four World Series rings, and exhibited a shiny, silver shovel commemorating construction a few years ago of the New Yankee Stadium. The handle of the shovel was a Louisville Slugger baseball bat.
Fred Bowman and this writer are already scheming to “get Jack back.” We want to hear him tell us more about his pre-Yankee adventures in the FBI and DEA.
By Paul Hardin