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Yanks help local charities with golf tournament

Cashman, Levine in attendance along with former New York sports stars

RYE, N.Y. -- The Yankees rolled out the green carpet at the venerable Westchester Country Club on Monday, when they hosted the third-annual Pinstripe Bowl Charity Golf Tournament.

The tourney, co-sponsored by New Era, helped raise funds for four local charities, and it brought together a wide sampling of the region's former sports heroes. Ex-Yankees Ron Guidry and David Cone were scheduled to attend, and so were former Giants Mark Bavaro and Amani Toomer.

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The event -- which raised more than $200,000 over the first two years -- took place at the Westchester Country Club for the first time this year. Randy Levine, president of the Yankees, met the media outside the putting green Monday and said the tournament is a great diversion for a worthy cause.

"This is one of the great golf courses in New York. They play PGA Tour events, so we're privileged and lucky to be here," said Levine. "I feel very bad for the golf course and the other players because I'm playing. I can see the grass was not happy to see me come in today. But today's just fun."

The day began with lunch for the competitors, and the tournament was followed by a cocktail reception and an awards dinner benefiting the community. Net proceeds from the event went to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Pediatric Cancer Center, the Tourette Syndrome Association of Central New Jersey, the Boomer Esiason Foundation Fighting Cystic Fibrosis and United Healthcare Children's Foundation.

Several former players and coaches with ties to Syracuse -- the two-time champion of the Pinstripe Bowl -- were on hand Monday, and so were players with ties to the New York baseball scene. Ex-Dodger Ralph Branca made it out to Westchester and so did Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

Cashman, still recovering from a broken right ankle sustained in a skydiving accident in March, was healthy enough to walk around the course on Monday but not healthy enough to play. Cashman spoke hours before his team's series opener in Baltimore, but baseball was momentarily pushed aside.

"It's awesome. It's a day off. We get out of the office," said Cashman. "Unfortunately, I can't golf. My ligaments on my recovering ankle aren't strong enough yet. I'm here for moral support. I'll be ready for the Eddie Lucas golf outing in August that Gene Michael sponsors."

The Pinstripe Bowl was the inspiration of the late George Steinbrenner, longtime owner of the Yankees and a passionate devotee of college football. The bowl has pitted the fourth-place team in the Big East against the seventh-place team in the Big 12, but Levine said changes will be coming.

One change, of course, is that the football members of the former Big East will be rebranded as the American Athletic Conference next season. Levine said Monday that the Big 12 will no longer be associated with the Pinstripe Bowl, but he said it's a move that makes sense for all parties.

"It's been an incredible success," said Levine. "We've averaged close to 40,000 fans three years in a row. We've made a good profit. It's become branded. It's become well known throughout the bowl season. I think in the next few weeks we'll announce some changes which will be an upgrade on the bowl."

That could mean a chance for more teams from the Eastern seaboard to play in the Pinstripe Bowl, but Levine wouldn't say how the bowl might change without the Big 12's involvement. For now, the Yankees and New Era are thrilled with what they've created, and they're excited to see what comes next.

"We're very, very pleased," Levine said. "As I've said 100 times, maybe more, this was one of The Boss' wishes. He loved college football. He coached it and he played it. He wanted to make sure it was lasting at the new building, and we're gratified that we've been able to make his wishes come true."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for

New York Yankees