Major League Baseball remembers the Boss

Steinbrenner in video
2010 All Star Game Thread

Just a few days after George Steinbrenner celebrated his 80th birthday, I pondered Cooperstown for the Boss. Despite his temper and problems with baseball’s top authorities, George has been one of the most influential and revolutionary owners in professional sports. He turned a $10-million investment in 1973 into something worth over $1 billion in 2010, and he of course made enemies along the way.

But while baseball history is littered with the names of those fired by Steinbrenner, the Boss had another side that didn’t make headlines. His charitable contributions were immense, and employees past and present say George, even at his worst, was always loyal to those loyal to him and the Yankees organization. He wasn’t all bad; he wasn’t all good; he just was.

For the Yankees, today is a day of mourning. George had been the face of the organization for 37 years, and during that time, the 29 other baseball teams had changed hands 100 times. Yet, the Steinbrenners endured. In George’s first year as owner of the Yankees, there were just 24 Major League teams. Today, they are 30, and the Yankees, winners of seven World Series trophies on his watch, rule the roost, and even as Yankee fans can forget how George’s meddling mired the franchise in 1980s mediocrity, those around baseball remembered the man today.

“This is a very sad day for me and Carmen and all of baseball,” Yogi Berra, who had a 15-year feud with Steinbrenner, said. “My sympathies go out to the Steinbrenner family. George was The Boss, make no mistake. He built the Yankees into champions and that’s something nobody can ever deny. He was a very generous, caring, passionate man. George and I had our differences, but who didn’t? We became great friends over the last decade and I will miss him very much.”

Bud Selig, who banded together with other owners in frequent attempts to rein in Steinbrenner’s spending, spoke: “I have known George ever since he entered the game in 1972. He was my dear friend for nearly four decades. Although we would have disagreements over the years, they never interfered with our friendship and commitment to each other. Our friendship was built on loyalty and trust and it never wavered. We were allies and friends in the truest sense of the words.”

Don Zimmer, another baseball figure who had a falling-out with Steinbrenner, wanted to remember the good times. “I would prefer to remember him just as he was the first time I met him. I was managing the Red Sox and sitting in the dugout several hours before a game at Yankee Stadium. He was on the mound in a white shirt pitching batting practice to his son. A father throwing to his son,” the Rays’ adviser said. “His impact on the game is impossible to measure. If you were a Yankee fan there was no better owner because he would do anything at any cost to put the best team on the field.

The Red Sox will honor George Steinbrenner with a moment of silence before the Thursday game at Fenway Park. “I had the good fortune to call George Steinbrenner both partner and friend,” current Boston owner and former Yankee partner John Henry said. “I had the privilege to watch George as he built a system that ensured his beloved Yankees would have a strong foundation for sustained excellence. And then we fiercely competed in the American League. George Steinbrenner forever changed baseball and hopefully some day we will see him honored in baseball’s Hall of Fame as one of the great figures in the history of sports.”

Echoed Larry Lucchino, who once called George’s Yankees the Evil Empire: “My respect for George went beyond the baseball field because of his sincere and longstanding commitment to charity, and to people in need. He had a giant heart, often well hidden from public view. Part of his legacy here in Boston will be the profound kindness he showed to numerous local philanthropic causes, especially as a regular and generous contributor each year to the Jimmy Fund of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.”

John Sterling, the homerist of Yankee homers, spoke about the Boss’ contradictions. “I’ve heard one million George Steinbrenner stories of things he did for people that would bring a tear to your eye. So he was a combination,” he said. “Was he a tough boss? Boy, you bet he was. But he also had the softest side to him. In my own way, I really loved him. He took care of so many people in so many ways. I’m really very sad today, but he did phenomenal things for the Yankees.”

Joe Torre, the last manager to be kinda, sorta fired by the Boss, added his own comment: “I will always remember George Steinbrenner as a passionate man, a tough boss, a true visionary, a great humanitarian, and a dear friend. 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.”

It is indeed only fitting that George went out on top. His Yankees are World Series champions with the best record on baseball. He wouldn’t have had it any other way.

After the jump, a video from CNN of George in his own words.

Steinbrenner in video
2010 All Star Game Thread
  • Tom Zig

    Still in shock.

  • Tom Merritt

    Well written article. It was sad to see his health decline for the last couple years. He was hell on wheels for a long time and it was true that he took that relatively small investment and multiplied it many times over. It is going to be strange with him gone even though his sons were running the business. He certainly restored the Yankees unmatched tradition and pulled them out of the 1970’s pit. Hard to believe that George and Bob, both giants in Yankee history, died so close together. We will likely never see the likes of either of them again. They were both unique unto themselves and you can’t say that about too many people.

  • Jake H

    Very very sad. I think we all knew this day was close to coming yet I for one thought that he would live a long time because of his will.

  • Walter

    George Steinbrenner personified everything wrong with professional sports. He will be remembered as a greedy owner who bought championships before the MLB got control of the owners. Baseball is a better game without Steinbrenner, who unfortunately created a culture in New York that will take years to disassemble.

    • The209


    • Carlosologist

      Mind shutting the fuck up? Today is a day of mourning.

      • poster on another computer


    • Tom Zig

      I’m sorry you feel that way. You are in the minority though.

    • Colombo

      Really? Is this what you came here for? Class-less, really.

      And to refute your points, George Steinbrenner made the game of baseball better because he put everything he had into the team, not like owners in other towns that take revenue sharing money and buy bigger houses and more cars. Every baseball fan wishes the owner of their favorite team was George Steinbrenner.

    • bexarama

      Why are you even here right now?

      (This wouldn’t be an appropriate comment even after the freakin’ day he died, but it’s extra inappropriate today.)

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Let me guess, you root for supposedly the smallest small market team small market team also known as the Boston Red Sox?

      • Carlosologist

        Shit, John Henry and Larry Lucchino had the class to respect George’s death. Why can’t a dumbass do the same?

        • JobaWockeeZ

          Because only .01 of Boston fans have class. He’s acting like a typical hardcore Red Sox homer.

    • Yankeefan91 Arod fan

      seriously Walter stfu ur probably a red sox hater and right now is not the time to criticize and if he was so greedy y did he helped a lot of people that were in need.

    • Marcos

      Wow. Just speechless. I thought that nobody could be so ignorant as to spit on someones grave, apparently I was wrong. Seriously though, classless, just classless.

      I call for a good bashing with the ban-hammer.

    • T-Dubs

      Wish it was you instead Walter.

    • DCBX

      This ain’t tee ball, kid. You want to see everyone get a trophy? Sign up for intramural in September.

      No one likes a sore loser, especially one that trash talks at the funeral.

  • ZZ

    I have seen a lot of people say over the years that Stick Michael built the dynasty team and if George never got suspended those teams probably never come to be.

    If you really think The Boss wasn’t involved at all or had any influence during those years, then you haven’t been listening very closely to all the things being said about him today.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      TSJC actually talked about this a while back and found out The Boss had a big impact on the dynasty teams.

      Alright, here goes. Buckle up.
      “you’re right: the superstar winning teams of the late 90s were built while he was banned from running the team.”
      Not really. Steinbrenner was out from mid 1990 to just before the beginning of the 1993 season. Meaning, everything that happened during the 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996 seasons preceding that first championship happened under his watch and with his approval.
      Let’s take a look at that 1996 title team:
      Girardi – acquired for prospect Mike DeJean after the 1995 season. Steinbrenner.
      Tino – acquired for prospects Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock after the 1995 season. Steinbrenner.
      Mariano Duncan – signed as a free agent after the 1995 season. Steinbrenner.
      Jeter – drafted in 1992. Stein-free.
      Boggs – signed as a free agent after the 1992 season. Stein-free.
      Gerald Williams – drafted in 1987. Subsequently traded away. Steinbrenner.
      Bernie – signed as an amateur free agent in 1985. Steinbrenner.
      Paul O’Neill – acquired for Roberto Kelly after the 1992 season. Stein-free.
      Jorge – drafted in June 1990. Stein didn’t step down as managing partner of the Yankees until August of 1990, so, technically, Posada is Steinbrenner.
      Ruben Sierra – acquired for Danny Tartabull in 1995. Subsequently traded away.Steinbrenner.
      Leyritz – signed as an amateur free agent in 1985. Steinbrenner.
      Tim Raines – acquired for non-prospect Blaise Kozeniewski in 1995. Steinbrenner.
      Strawberry – signed as a free agent in mid 1995. Steinbrenner.
      Cecil Fielder – acquired for Ruben Sierra in 1996. Steinbrenner.
      Andy Fox – drafted in 1989. Steinbrenner.
      Ruben Rivera – signed as an IFA in November 1990. Stein-free.
      Charlie Hayes – traded as a PTBNL for non-prospect Darrin Chapin before the 1992 season. Stein-free.
      Luis Sojo – claimed on waivers in mid-1996. Steinbrenner.
      Pat Kelly – drafted in 1988. Steinbrenner.
      Pettitte – signed as an amateur free agent in 1991… although the team did draft him during that Steinbrenner draft of 1990 and he didn’t sign. I’ll call it Stein-free, but it’s close.
      Kenny Rogers – signed as a free agent in 1995 for some fat SteinBucks. Steinbrenner.
      Cone – acquired in a salary dump in mid 1995. Steinbrenner.
      Jimmy Key – signed as a free agent in 1992 for some fat GeneMichaelBucks. Stein-free.
      Gooden – signed as a free agent in 1996. Steinbrenner.
      Ramiro Mendoza – signed as an amateur free agent in 1991. Stein-free.
      John Wetteland – acquired for prospect Fernando Seguignol in 1995. Steinbrenner.
      Mariano Rivera – signed as an IFA in February, 1990. Steinbrenner.
      Jeff Nelson – acquired for prospects Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock after the 1995 season. Steinbrenner.
      Bob Wickman – acquired for Steve Sax in 1992. Subsequently traded away. Stein-free (I guess).
      Brian Boehringer – acquired for Paul Assenmacher in the spring of 1994. Steinbrenner.
      Jim Mecir – acquired for prospects Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock after the 1995 season. Steinbrenner.
      Scott Kamieniecki – drafted in 1986. Steinbrenner.
      Dave Weathers – acquired for Mark Hutton in mid 1996. Steinbrenner.
      Ricky Bones – acquired in mid 1996 for Gerald Willaims and Bob Wickman. Steinbrenner.
      Graeme Lloyd – acquired in mid 1996 for Gerald Willaims and Bob Wickman. Steinbrenner.
      The only members of the 1996 title team that were “built” while George was kicked out of the game were:
      Charlie Hayes
      Ruben Rivera (who was a 22 year old rookie who got one postseason plate appearance)
      Pettitte (sort of)
      Jimmy Key
      Ramiro Mendoza
      The other 17 guys on the 25-man roster, and all the other ancillary pieces of depth on the 40 man, they all were either already Yankees before Stein’s suspension, or were acquired after Stein took control, and many of them were typical Steinbrenner big-ticket acquisitions (like Rogers, Cone, Wetteland, Tino, Strawberry, Gooden, Raines, Duncan, Nelson, etc.) Moreover, of the 8 guys who were “built” while George was gone, I feel pretty confidently he would have also bought Jimmy Key and Wade Boggs as free agents, and Hayes and Rivera are effectively blips on the radar. Hell, I have no reason to believe he wouldn’t have drafted Jeter at #6; in any event, it’s the 6th pick in the draft, we were damn likely to get something good. And, like I said, Pettitte was already on our radar pre-George’s ban. All you’re really saying for sure is the Kelly-O’Neill deal went down sans-George. The rest is pretty much moot.
      The claim that the team was “built” while George wasn’t around isn’t a strong one. You can say that Stick Michael used the time to let some of the kids grow on the far and not be traded for prospects, and it’s true, but the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of the 1996 title team was assembled under George’s watch from 1993-1996 and was done in the classic George Steinbrenner way: Buy good free agents and trade prospects for other good players entering their primes.

      • bexarama

        I never saw this before. Good sh-t, TSJC.

      • king of fruitless hypotheticals

        Jeter – drafted in 1992. Stein-free.

        …and for all the other ‘Stein-free’ names that were on there i can only say this: If a) The Boss loved winning HALF as much as he said he did, and b) let’s be honest, The Boss was known to skirt the rules (er, sometimes by too much), then c) you can’t really believe he WASN’T giving a wink and a nod to draft picks and FA signings, can you?

        really? :)

  • Steve S

    Torre, forever grateful? Really?

    • JobaWockeeZ

      He was the highest paid manager for several of those years and he was apart of a dynasty…

      He got championships and a lot of money, I’d be grateful too even with a poor ending.

    • bexarama

      Torre supposedly talked to Steinbrenner rather in depth very recently, according to multiple people today. I was surprised too.

  • Yaron Prywes

    1 year ago I won Peter Golenbock’s biography of Steinbrenner on an RAB’s trivia contest. Building on Ben’s excellent post, I offer some facts from the book about the Boss’s enormous charitable contributions.

    * Before he was prominent, George helped start the Junior Olympics in Cleveland, which helps boys and girls compete in track in order to stay out of trouble. He also personally offered many athletes, like John LeCourt, college scholarships.

    * He started the Silver Shield Foundation, which pays college tuition for all children whose fathers died in the line of duty as police officers or firefighters in New York State and in Hillsborough County, Florida. Hundreds of youngsters have received college educations as a result.

    * For years, George funded the Whitey M. Young Classic, a football game at Yankee Stadium between Grambling College and another historically black college. In 1974 when Yankee stadium was being refurbished, Grambling’s coach, Eddie Robinson, had no place to play. Steinbrenner agreed to cover all expenses for the game, which continued for many years thereafter.

    Many people, who often started out as strangers to George Steinbrenner, owe him a lot.

    * When George heard in 1988 about a twenty-year old construction worker who was killed by a stray bullet during a nearby argument over a drug deal, he paid for the man’s funeral.

    * In 2006, Steinbrenner read about a thirteen-year-old Arkansas boy who gave a thousand dollars he had earned working to his debt-ridden middle school rather than use it to travel to New York on vacation. George made the boy a special guest of the Yankees on Old-Timers’ Day. He flew him on an all-expense paid trip to New York and sent him a $1,000 check.

    * George paid for the funerals of four children who died in their home in the Bronx when their space heater sparked a fire.

    * In 1973, an eighteen-year-old Ray Negron went with his half-brothers and cousins to illegally graffiti a wall of Yankee Stadium. Ray, a gentle kid who sported a tall afro, had begun spray-painting a big “NY” on the wall of the stadium when a black limousine pulled up. Everyone saw a large man get out of the limo, except Ray. Before he could run, George grabbed Ray by the scruff of the neck and marched him into the stadium’s holding cell. After leaving the terrified boy in the cell for ten minutes, George took Ray into the Yankees locker room and ordered the clubhouse manager to give him a uniform. “He’s got damages he’s got to work off,” said Steinbrenner, who made him a bat boy for a couple of days. When one of the regular boys got sick, Negron stayed on and never left. He has been a Yankees employee on and off ever since. Over the next 30 plus years he held many roles in the organization, including working in the audiovisual department and being a drug counselor to Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. In 2006, with George’s blessing, he published a children’s book, The Boy of Steel, about a young cancer patient, Babe Ruth, and the Yankees.

    Read more about George Steinbrenner as a loved and hated leader on my business blog at

    • T-Dubs

      excellent! thank you!

      • Yaron Prywes

        My pleasure. The Boss’s generous charitable acts should get as much air time as his dark side.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      aaaahhhh jerk. now i’m misty eyed again.

  • NYC

    RIP The Boss…. :(

  • Esteban

    1980s NY Yankees: Won the most regular season games of any team in baseball. Not mediocre. They just didn’t win a WS.

  • Marcos

    Didn’t The Boss hate the idea of owners being in the Hall? IIRC he even went on to say that he’ll “Never be in the Hall of Fame” or something like that…

    Rest in Peace Boss, you will be sorely missed.

  • Jason Tabrys

    “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.” he once said sounding unsure of the order

    Since 1973 New York Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner has given and done his best for the New York Yankees and their fans. Today at the age of 80, George Steinbrenner passed away. Steinbrenner, or the “Boss” as he was lovingly and at times not so lovingly called will in the light of history likely be regarded as a complex figure. Driven and harsh with an undercurrent of compassion, his temper and bombastic actions always somewhat excused by his unyielding fire to win and dominate the game of baseball. And from 1973 to today no team has dominated the game in the way the New York Yankees have, leading the game in pennants, titles, wins, salaries, and headlines.

    “If a man has done his best, what else is there?”-George S. Patton

    George Michael Steinbrenner III gone at age 80, fiercely loyal, tirelessly dedicated, a champion, a legend who always did his very best to give us a good show.

    With Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, The Babe, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Mickey, and the rest Heaven has a hell of a Baseball team, now they have a demanding owner.

  • AndrewYF

    Fact: George Steinbrenner contributed more good to this world than any of us could ever hope to.

    His ‘criminal behavior’ involved campaign donations and a douchebag move involving Dave Winfield.

    Not exactly on the level of Kenneth Lay, here.

    I will never understand the abject hatred people have for the man. Even if he truly, singlehandedly ruined the entirety of MLB (he, uh, didn’t), his enormous donations to charitable causes (many of which are probably unknown) more than outweigh whatever ‘damage’ he could ever personally do to some sport.

    The world is better for George Steinbrenner to have lived in it. It’s hard to think of a more deserving candidate to ascend to heaven. I’m pretty sure that ‘ruining sports’ doesn’t exactly count as a sin in any religion.

  • steve

    “show me a good loser and i’ll show you a loser” never heard that quote from him before. i like it !