July 13, 2010

The death of a Yankees legend: Owner George Steinbrener passed away

As many of you know Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner passed away at age 80 as a result of a massive heart attack. Steinbrenner has been on the decline for a couple of years now, and it has been rather sad as a fan of the team to watch. Despite what people think of the Yankees, no one can deny the impact this man has had on Major League Baseball or sports as a whole.

No other owner can even begin to compare to "The Boss" in terms of passion and commitment to his team and players. You may think he was just a checkbook, but this guy cared about his team and didn't give a hoot what anyone thought of him or how he went about building his team. He bought this team at one of the low points in franchise history, and used his own money to re-build, basically from the ground up.

What he did for the game was make it competitive, he forced other teams to use their revenue and money to make their farm system better, make their teams more competitive, free agent signings, etc. You could say that he buys his teams or his championships but you know what, the guy put the best team the franchise could get on the field. I like that he didn't give a hoot what people thought of him or what other teams thought of him as long as the fans of the team and his players loved him. That is what made him loved by the fans here, he did whatever it took to make things happen.

Despite all the "bad blood" between him and many others, if you read or listen to many of the interviews or press releases from other managers, owners, and players, they all give him a tremendous amount of credit for the man he was and how he managed his franchise. I took a couple of excerpts from Bryan Hoch's article on the Yankees website for you to check out:

In his first 23 seasons, Steinbrenner switched managers 20 times -- including hiring and firing Billy Martin on five occasions -- and went through 11 general managers in 30 years. The payoff came in the form of back-to-back World Series titles over the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977 and 1978, the Yankees' first consecutive titles since 1961 and 1962.

The Yankees also appeared in the 1981 World Series against Los Angeles, though the end result was unacceptable to Steinbrenner, who issued a public apology to the city of New York for the six-game defeat. The Yankees did not win a World Series championship throughout the 1980s, the first decade since the 1910s in which they failed to do so.

"George was like a father figure to me," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella, a former Yankees player and two-time manager who, like Steinbrenner, was a Tampa resident. "He treated me well, he treated me fair and he gave me a wonderful opportunity to play and manage the game we all love.

"George will be remembered as one of the most influential and renowned owners of a franchise in sports history. He leaves a legacy of winning and an unwavering passion for success. My wife Anita and I send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Steinbrenner family and the Yankees organization. George was very special to me and I loved him."

The Yankees' more recent dynasty of four World Series championships from 1996-2000 was constructed behind Steinbrenner's decidedly more hands-off approach. Joe Torre lasted as manager for 12 seasons, and a blossoming farm system allowed the Yankees to reap the rewards of developing players like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams to great success, while still adding free agents to round out talented rosters.

"I will always remember George Steinbrenner as a passionate man, a tough boss, a true visionary, a great humanitarian, and a dear friend," Torre said on Tuesday. "I will be forever grateful that he trusted me with his Yankees for 12 years. My heart goes out to his entire family. He will be deeply missed in New York, Tampa and throughout the world of baseball. It's only fitting that he went out as a world champ."

For more from Bryan Hoch, the Yankees beat writer for MLB.com please click here for news and video on Steinbrenner.

Say whatever you want about George Steinbrenner, but you will never see another guy with the same passion and commitment to a team that he had for 37 years. While there are many stories of him painted in a negative light, there are 10 times as many that paint him as a guy who gave back to his community and to people he had just casual encounters with. There were plenty of people kept on his payroll at Yankee Stadium because they had no where else to go and no one to turn to. There was even a story today about him meeting a grocery clerk at the supermarket who was just telling him how she was working there to pay for college, etc. The next day she received a letter directly from Steinbrenner offering her a scholarship. That is just one of many stories that are sure to surface this week. To be a great man and do great things, you do them because you are a good person and not to be recognized.

He made the Yankees into what they are today- an extension of himself. His story, work ethic, and legacy will live on for years to come.

2 comments:

  1. You wrote a great tribute to George Steinbrenner. How do you think the Yankees will change, if at all, without him? Will his sons carry on his legacy?

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  2. Honestly, I don't think they will change at all. His sons are very aware of how GMS took care of the team and went out and made things happen. I really believe that his sons will do their best to follow in his footsteps both on the field and in the community.

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