Always with a flair for the dramatic and an impeccable sense of timing, Yankees principal owner George M. Steinbrenner passed away today at the age of 80, a week and a half after his birthday and just prior to tonight’s All-Star Game.
Love him or hate him, and Yankees fans often did both, Steinbrenner changed Major League Baseball by setting an incredible standard for on-field performance.
He inspired fear in the hearts of his employees – often phoning their offices at 9 am after a particularly late night game, just to see who was in. Once after the team’s early exit from the post-season, he cut the front office’s dental plan, as if dental health were a luxury. He also worked tirelessly to help troubled players like Darryl Strawberry resurrect their careers, and proved he did have a soft spot for a select few.
Steinbrenner was never afraid to spend money to field the best team possible, but he also held players and managers accountable for their salaries. Who can forget the various tenures of Billy Martin or firing Lou Piniella for eating a tuna sandwich instead of taking his call? Or him calling Hideki Irabu a Pus-y Toad. The stories are the stuff of legend and the true accounts are actually far worse, but after all is said and done, Steinbrenner restored the Yankees to glory and won seven World Championships during his tenure.
He will always be The Boss in the Bronx.
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Written by Stephanie Geosits