I am a baseball fan. It is one of the things that will appear in the first paragraph of story of my life. In grade school I scoured the World Almanacs memorizing baseball stats and n
ames of batting title winners. My first favorite player was Ty Cobb because he won the most batting titles. (This was before I found out he was a racist douchebag).
I was also a Yankee fan. Truth be told I started with the Mets, but the proximity to Yankee Stadium of my home and the fact we could go to the ballgame for $5 with a hotdog and a soda made Yankee fandom easy ($3 tickets, $1 each for hotdog and soda and hop the turnstiles for transport. Those were the days!)
While the Yankees turned over players more often than hookers take showers, there was one constant – George Steinbrenner. He was the larger than life jerk owner who everyone in New York loathed. He seemed to mettle in everything. You couldn’t get away from him. Local news, SNL, beer commerials – The Boss (before Springsteen mind you) was everywhere.
While not particularly likable, he did act out of passion and desire to win. He raised the fans expectation and acted like a fan. In fact, I think he ran the Yankees as a fan would – impulsively, win at all costs and with passion.
Steinbrenner made sure and taught us all that winning was the ultimate goal. Every loss mattered, every slight mattered and every dollar he spent was a dollar he had a right to demand more of.
He taught us to win and expect winning. He said so much in every interview – contantly reminding us this is for the fans and the fans deserve a winner.
I don’t think the rest of the country understands this. I think most fans (especially out west) don’t expec to win. You can hear it in the stands. Out west big time players don’t perform and they aren’t booed. Teams spend money and come out flat and the fans still cheer. Steinbrenner taught New Yorkers that wasn’t acceptable.
I’m thankfully we had George Steinbrenner as an owner. He is the only owner I have ever known. For me he was the only constant in a City that constantly changed.
From Reggie, to Donnie, Kevin Maas, Wayne Tolleson, Rick Rhoden and Brian Fisher. Covering Rich Monetelone, Chuck Cary, Rich Dotson and the Gator – George was always there. From Bob Lemon to Stump Merrill to Bucky Dent and Dallas Green with a few Billy’s thrown in – George pushed.
You may not be missed, but you will be remembered.