George Steinbrenner’s earthly body may be gone, but considering the way baseball preserves – some might even say flogs – its legends, players, and heroes, you know “The Boss” is going to be around for a long time to come. With his spirit only just beginning its journey into eternity, he’s no doubt still hovering nearby, close enough to have seen the American League, his team’s League, lose the All-Star Game last night for the first time in 13 years. I wonder if he reacted like the “old” George, the one who fired manager Billy Martin five times; or like the “new” George, the mellow guy everyone says he turned into in recent years. (Is that the same George who fired Joe Torre?) Hopefully, he’s preoccupied with more important matters now, like his soul’s destination, and is no longer so concerned about winning, which dominated his life on Earth.
Just a few days before George left us, on Sunday, Bob Sheppard, the Voice of the Yankees for decades, passed away at the age of 99. About him we’ve heard only praise, none of the complicated anecdotes describing Steinbrenner as the complex, multi-faceted person he was. Derek Jeter long ago recorded Sheppard’s voice announcing his appearance at bat, and at the game last night it was played to a hushed stadium. “Derek Je-ter.” He enunciated every syllable with unsurpassed clarity, so everyone knew that ‘T’ was a ‘T’ and not a ‘D’. Sheppard didn’t go in for theatrics or melodrama: just clear, perfect enunciation.
I’m not thoroughly versed in Steinbrenner hagiography – but I do know that whenever someone attacks me for being a Yankee fan, his name tops the list of the so-called empire’s evils. I didn’t even know about the crooked Nixon contributions until fairly recently…but I’d rather not speak badly of the dead.
Steinbrenner’s legacy will certainly be reiterated in numerous articles and books, not to mention ceremonies, for at least a few months; it’s already begun. Mike and Mike in the Morning, which runs for four hours on ESPN TV and radio every day, and which tends to pay much more attention to basketball, football, and golf than to baseball, devoted today’s entire show to George Talk, with stories and anecdotes from call-ins, emails and guests. Today’s New York Times printed a slew of articles and obituaries, each with its own angle or emphasis. I direct you there:
And that’s only about half of them! Here’s the complete list.
Now what could I possibly add to all that? R.I.P.