All I knew of Yankee baseball was Billy and George and Reggie. And I ate it up. I read biographies of all of them and knew more than any 12 year old should about these guys. And since the Yankees won every year, I thought Steinbrenner was the best thing for them.
I became a Yankee fan in 1977 at the age of 9. The early Steinbrenner years were my formative experience as a baseball fan.
By the mid 1980s, everything had changed. I wasn't as prone to idolizing any more. And George was less of something to idolize. Every move he made seemed to make the team worst starting with the 1982 decision to build the team on speed and signing Ken Griffey and Dave Collins. Every statement he issued seemed to betray his inability to fix the Yankees.
I went to college in Cleveland where everyone hated the Yankees and Steinbrenner (a native son) in particular. One day in cavernous Municipal Stadium where you could hear everything shouted by each of the 3000 fans, a fan yelled out "George Steinbrenner sucks donkey d%$k" I laughed.
I remember driving home and listening to WFAN on March 1, 1993 when Steinbrenner was reinstated after his lifetime ban. After the worst three years as a Yankee fan, I thought to myself, "welcome back, we need something, and things were certainly better when you were around."
The rest, most of you know. Turning things over to Cashman and Torre (and Gene Michael). Basking in the glow of the world championships, George seemed to finally realize how to run the best franchise in sports. He no longer seemed the blustering fool of Seinfeld fame or the excessively driven but impulsive owner of the 1970s. He seemed to appreciate what he had and enjoyed it. We should all be so lucky. RIP George.