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Steinbrenner denies meddling with team


NEW YORK -- An admittedly stunned George Steinbrenner adamantly denied yesterday having talked to New York Yankees officials about baseball business during his banishment from the game.

"I categorically deny ever talking to anyone with the Yankees about baseball," Steinbrenner said in response to published reports in which unnamed Yankee officials are quoted as saying he violated terms of his banishment by conducting team business behind the scenes. "They say some motel manager over in New Jersey says I was constantly calling [former Yankees manager] Stump Merrill last year? It's an out-and-out lie!"

It was reported in The New York Times that Paul Schwartz, the manager of a hotel in Englewood, N.J., had told of numerous calls Steinbrenner allegedly made to Merrill last summer. Merrill denied ever getting any calls from Steinbrenner, and Schwartz declined comment.

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