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Archive for July 14th, 2010

George Steinbrenner , the polarizing owner of the New York Yankees, died yesterday at the age of 80.  To many fans of the game, especially for Yankee-haters,  he was the epitome of what went wrong with the game over the years, with his win-whatever-the-price mentality and larger-than-life bluster.  But if you were a fan of the Yanks, you probably grew to love the guy over the years for the same reasons. 

I liked the guy.  Over the years, there was a mellowing of his public persona and the focus went away from his public battles with Billy Martin and others to one that centered on his desire to win and his sentimental nature which led to his legendary generosity.  There are countless anecdotes about him talking to cashiers one day then having his people contact them the next with the news that Steinbrenner was putting them through college.  He started numerous foundations in cities around the country to send the children of fallen police officers through college.  He gave second chances to flawed humans, from the well known such as Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden to the many obscure folks who found themselves on the Yankees payroll after they had reached the bottom.  There are several stories out there of  people who Steinbrenner had come across over the years, who ran on to hard times with financial and health problems who were notified out of the blue that they were being hired by the Yankees as scouts.  They had no duties as scouts.  Nothing was required from them.  They simply received a paycheck for the rest of their lives.

I also liked his willingness to let others poke fun at him.  It made him an unlikely iconic figure in popular culture.  What other team-owner or businessman could host Saturday Night Live twice?  Then there’s his persona on Seinfeld with Larry David doing him as a staccato speaking loony.  It made Steinbrenner a cult figure of sorts.

Actually, Steinbrenner actually did appear on an episode of Seinfeld, although it was cut in the end and never aired.  It’s kind of funny. 

So, whether you hated or liked the guy or have absolutely no feelings, take a moment and watch  him be a good sport…

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