The passing of George Steinbrenner.

1-george-steinbrenner-obit-200mh071310What an awful week for icons of the New York Yankees. Long time public address announcer Bob Sheppard passed away on Sunday and today legendary owner George Steinbrenner has died at the age of 80. While his passing was no surprise given his poor health in recent years, it’s still a jolt to all Yankees fans.

George Steinbrenner and a group of investors purchased the Yankees in January 1973 from CBS, which owned the team during the 1965-1972 seasons. The CBS era was dismal and was marked by the decline of a great franchise. Unfortunately it was also the era of my youth and many of my early Yankee memories were of marginal players on bad teams—Roger Repoz, Steve Whitaker, Bobby Cox (great manager, lousy player), the list of marginal players was endless.

Steinbrenner raised the bar. His goal was always clear—win a World Championship every year. While obviously 29 other baseball teams stand in the way of that goal, the Yankees have won 7 Championships during his reign. George wanted to win so badly that he was maniacal and often made many impetuous bad decisions (some good ones as well). Regardless, his objective was clear—win.  

I met George on two occasions and George couldn’t have been more different each time—the first time he was kind, gracious and communicative, a truly wonderful person. In the second meeting he was abusive, ugly and rude. I suspect he was genuine in both meetings. George actually kicked me and my colleagues out of his office in 1983 (Read about it in an earlier Struming)

The Day the Boss Kicked Me Out of His Office.

Regardless, my respect for him, his goals and the Yankees never wavered. Every passionate Yankees fan owes George Steinbrenner a debt of gratitude. He wanted the New York Yankees  to win–every game, every season, every year. A fan couldn’t ask for more. Thank you, George.

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