Jul 13

Steinbrenner passes; his legacy endures.

“It was a beautiful thing to observe, all 36 oars working in unison.’’ – late Cardinals announcer Jack Buck quipping he had seen George Steinbrenner’s yacht.

It is a timeless quote about a timeless subject, George M. Steinbrenner, the demonstrative, cantankerous and blustery owner of the New York Yankees, who died today of a heart attack at age 80.

STEINBRENNER: Always King George

Buck’s comment has long been the perception of Steinbrenner by the public through screaming headlines and video and audio sound bites. The man was positively driven to win and it didn’t matter the cost in dollars or whom he stepped on. The Yankees would throw millions at players, and if they didn’t win Steinbrenner was ruthless in his handling of his managers and front office staff.

It was that way from the day he purchased the Yankees in 1973 for less than $10 million from CBS and said: “I won’t be active in the day-to-day operation of the Yankees. I’ll stick to building ships.’’

What he did was rebuilt the dynasty – twice.

By the time I started covering the Yankees in 1998, Steinbrenner’s legacy was well cemented in that he revived a struggling team and turned professional sports’ most revered franchise to a billion dollar empire.

The Yankees Brand is world-renowned and that is Steinbrenner’s legacy on the grand scale, but for me I’ll remember him like most beat reporters for the exhilarating paces he put us through.

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Oct 28

Annie Savoy and Steinbrenner ….

NOTE: Annie Savoy (not her real name) has been a friend of this blog since I started covering the New York Mets. We have corresponded off-line and I have learned of her fascinating background in the world of horse racing. She emailed me this story this morning with the intent of me sharing it with you.

George Steinbrenner and me –

I think this might be the right time to mention one of the times I spoke with George Steinbrenner. It was at the traditional dinner dance held the evening before the 1980 Belmont Stakes, at Belmont Race Track in New York where I was running a horse in the Belmont stakes for the first time.

The Belmont is the third of thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown Races, the first being the Kentucky Derby and the second being the Preakness. These are the class races open only to three year old horses whose prize money to date has made the top ten list for their class.

Ever traditional, the dinner dance attracts the owners, trainers and jockeys who will be on the program for the Belmont Stakes as well as various other noted horsemen and women. It’s a very nice, formal event.

Right before the dancing started, George Steinbrenner who owned Kinsman Stables in Ocala, came over to our table to see me. Always the gentleman, he gave me a hug and said “my wife told me to be sure and wish you luck tomorrow from both of us – she has the same name as you do, so we follow your horses with special interest”. He then took a seat at our table, and talked with everyone there about horses, not baseball.

I’ve never forgotten that night, nor the George Steinbrenner I knew from the racing business and still saw around the major races and Saratoga in August.
Nowadays, George is finding success with another sport in another venue, and I want to wish him good luck this week, and hopefully a return to good health.

He deserves it all.

Sep 22

This day in baseball history ….

On this day ....

On this day ....

On this day in 1985, on the day following his scuffle with a patron in the Cross Keys Inn bar in Baltimore, Yankees manager Billy Martin has his right arm broken by pitcher Ed Whitson the next morning.

We talked about Milton Bradley yesterday, which makes me wonder how he and Martin would have interacted with each other. I have a feeling it would be worse than his relationship with Reggie Jackson. Martin would have to be the manager of the all bad-guy team.

George Steinbrenner kept going back to Martin. Each time it was “going to be different,” but it never was. Martin was a quick fix kind of guy. He turned teams around right away, which makes me believe that type of fiery personality is what could be needed for the Mets.

MARTIN: Five times a Yankee manager.

MARTIN: Five times a Yankee manager.


However, the danger of a quick fix manager is they become super novas and burn themselves out. If and when the Mets make another managerial change, they need to go with a commanding presence, a guy who doesn’t have to be a simmering volcano, but one that demands respect and doesn’t take any crap.

The team needs a disciplinarian type, a man who would make a player shiver just by his stare. They said Gil Hodges was that way. Joe Torre is that way as is Tony La Russa. Above all, they need somebody with success on his resume, somebody who has the ring his players do not.