The staff here at Pinstripe Alley has decided to put together a 'collective' George Steinbrenner retrospective. Below are the thoughts of several of our writers on the passing of The Boss from a heart attack at the age of 80.
Yankee fans and haters alike will realize that 'King' George III was one of the most influential owners in the history of American sports. Whether you loved or hated him, you could not deny his impact. He brought the once-historic Yankees, at their lowest point, back to prominence and helped transform a sporting franchise into a world-famous brand.
I personally recall Steinbrenner as the fiery face of the franchise in the late '80s when he would hire and fire managers almost every year, call managers during the game and force trades for aging veterans.
It will be interesting to see how Hank and Hal run the team in the absence of their father.
No matter if you were the marquee player or the 25th guy on the roster, you were treated like royalty as a Yankee (and frankly, as a fan) in the Steinbrenner years.
George wanted to win at all costs. Sometimes it was to the detriment of the team, but you never doubted his passion.
Bombastic bully. Buffoon. Ego-maniacal tyrant. Good for baseball. A blight on baseball. In his later years, a weak old man. Think what you will of George Steinbrenner, and all of those descriptions fit in one way or another.
Steinbrenner changed baseball. And he changed the New York Yankee franchise. It was his will, his money, his unmatched desire to win no mattter what it took that turned the Yankees back into the YANKEES. From a moribund laughingstock back into what they are today, a World Championship-caliber team that everyone loves to hate, a team for which winning is the only acceptable outcome and a franchise that does not apologize for doing whatever it takes to accomplish that.
That is what the Yankees were in the days of old, the days before the dark years of the late 1960s and early 1970s before The Boss purchased the team from CBS.
Whatever you think of The Boss, if you are a Yankee fan you need to thank him. It is because of him that the Yankees are back where they are supposed to be -- a franchise with a chance to take home the big prize every season.
Thank you, Boss. RIP.
George Steinbrenner loomed large over his team in much the same way that his team loomed large over the world of American sports. In that sense, theirs was a marriage made in heaven.
During an era in which far too many owners went to great lengths to show how "poor" they were, Steinbrenner wasn't shy about flexing his financial muscle to improve the team, and even though he had his share of missteps, you never doubted his intentions or his passion.
Steinbrenner upped the ante, beginning a long process which forced other teams to step up to the plate to compete with the Yankees, whether with their wallets, brainpower, or a combination of both. And so to those who argue that his free-spending ways were bad for baseball, I disagree.
I missed most of the legendary Boss- Billy Martin died before I knew who he was; the Yogi Berra day that patched things up between Yogi and George happened when I was in middle school; and while plenty of people walked on eggshells when George was around in the '90s, he was around less and less.
The incredible thing about The Boss is that he was a business man and a sports fan. He leveraged the city for every penny the Yankees were worth in getting public funding for New Yankee Stadium. He launched one of the first regional sports networks in the country. He poured millions of dollars into the roster to pack the house every night in a city with hundreds of other entertainment options.
I give Mr. Steinbrenner credit for creating the disparity between the American and National Leagues. First the Red Sox, then every other contender in the American League has added payroll and talent in hopes of besting the Yankees in the playoffs.
He left behind big shoes to fill, but from what we've seen in the last couple of seasons, it looks like Hank and Hal are up to the challenge.