Just days after losing the Voice of God, p.a. announcer Bob Sheppard, the New York Yankees lost their owner, George Steinbrenner. The Boss was felled by a massive heart attack which must have been a surprise to him, because he once said “I’ll never have a heart attack. I give them.” (Deadpsin) I wonder how many times Billy Martin has been fired today.
Steinbrenner’s legacy is mixed, the Yankees were a zoo during his first decade or two ,and around 1995, my feelings were that he done much more harm then good for the Yankees. That changed of course when the farm system started bearing fruit and the team went on to win 4 World Series in five seasons. Of course, that happened in part because Steinbrenner was kicked out of daily operations (for the second time) by MLB for 2 years after paying a gambler named Howard Spira to dig up dirt on Dave Winfield. With “The Boss” out of the picture, the baseball minds could actually work and get franchise back on solid footing. Steinbrenner then retained Joe Torre as manager for 12 seasons and Brian Cashman as general manager from 1998 on. That and some more typical Steinbrenner free agent spending kept the team in the playoffs through 2007, but without a World Series win since 2000 and a pennant since 2003. Last year in the first year of new Yankee Stadium (which Steinbrenner paid a significant chunk to build) new manager Joe Girardi, improved play from the “Core 4″ of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, and some big spending on C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett yielded another title.
Another shortcoming of the Steinbrenner era was is estrangement from Yankees legend Yogi Berra. After Steinbrenner fired Berra, via emissary instead of personally in 1985, the former catcher and manager didn’t have anything to do with the Yankees until Steinbrenner finally apologized in 1999 and Yogi was back in the fold. Good for Berra for sticking up to the Boss. I still think the site of Berra throwing out the first pitch of an interleague game in a Mets cap at Shea Stadium before an interleague game was what ultimately provoked Steinbrenner to make amends.
Steinbrenner was man of extremes, being very petty and demeaning with some members of the Yankees, but also very charitable. More than anything though, he goes down as a winner with 7 World Series titles and 11 AL pennants.
George Steinbrenner, Yankees’ Owner, Dies at 80 – The Times
George Steinbrenner, owner of New York Yankees, has died in Tampa at age of 80 after heart attack – NY Daily News
George Steinbrenner has died at 80 – NY Post
Also, DC Sports Bog notes that Steinbrenner was pro-D.C. baseball in 1978.