Last week’s passing of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner the morning of the All-Star Game, at 80 of a massive heart attack, marked the end of an era.
Being a Los Angeles Dodgers fan as a kid, I viewed Steinbrenner like the Darth Vader of major league baseball, especially in 1977 and 1978, when my Dodgers were beaten in both World Series’ by his Yankees. I did get a measure of revenge when my Dodgers/Jedi’s returned beating the “evil empire” in the 1981 series. But ‘77 and ’78 will always hurt.
I’ve got to give it to “The Boss.” He was a winner, demanded excellence and was a good guy off the diamond donating so much to so many. You’ve, also, got to love a guy who worked comedy in Miller Lite Commercials (see above video), Saturday Night Live and loved his depiction in Seinfeld.
Although Steinbrenner paid plenty for his teams prompting owners and fans of other teams to cry “monopoly“, he was quite influential in the business of baseball and every pro sport today.
When the Dodgers sold this season’s three-game inter-league series against the Yankees separately, to profit from the rivalry and the Yankee/Steinbrenner brand, from the rest of their home ticket packages, was proof you can’t deny what Steinbrenner meant to the business of baseball in every major league city.
That’s really all I can come up with when it comes to “The Boss.“
My very good friend and trans-planted New Yorker, Stan Schneider, was quite eloquent in a note after I posted “RIP George Steinbrenner” on my Facebook page. Thought I’d share that note with you:
The best owner in baseball is gone.
For all his faults, he was one of the most soft hearted and generous of people, often to a fault. He believed in loyalty and lots of second chances (See: Steve Howe). Even if he fired you he was never mad at you (See: Billy Martin, Bob Lemon, Dick Howser, Joe Torre, Lou Piniella) and the doors were always open … See More waiting for you to come back.
He bought the Yankees when CBS ran them aground after Topping & Webb left the ship foundering and brought them back to glory. In the 80s he lost his sense of direction with the club, but regained it and started rebuilding it from within with Mariano, Andy, Bernie, Jorge, and Derek.
He created the first all baseball network (YES) and partnered with the Jets and Nets to form a huge sports media corporation.
Some say he spent his money foolishly and sometimes he did. But more often than not, there were wise moves that paid off in championships. He was quick to cut his losses and move on to improve the club year after year.
Those who hate the Yankees are merely jealous and envious of their success and only wish their owners and teams were like that.
I’ve been a Yankee fan for as long as I can remember because I like the feeling of winning. They played the game smarter and better than anyone else. I’ve seen Joltin’ Joe, Henrich, Keller, The Super-Chief, Scooter, Flash, Yogi, Whitey, Mick, Maris, Moose, Catfish, Graig, Reggie, Goose, Donny Baseball, Winnie, A-Rod, Mariano and Derek and believe me when I say no team, no where has had as many great players and great seasons as the Yankees. With the exception of Scully, no team has had better broadcasters than Mel, Red, and now Michael Kay.
No team has the history, the lore and the tradition. Steinbrenner, to his credit, understood all of it, faced his detractors and critics and produced in his final complete season, what he always strove for, a championship.
So long, Boss. Thanks for everything.
Just two days prior to Steinbrenner’s passing, Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard, known as the “Voice of God“, who was at the Stadium mic for more than half a century, died just a few months short of his 100th birthday.
His voice was truly something to experience. Watching any Yankees game, especially if they were playing your team, Sheppard’s voice in the background introducing the players, most of the time spelled doom for you.
Like Steinbrenner, Sheppard will be missed by the baseball world as well.