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Baseball Legends Never Die

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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:

His Final Victory is an Empire Restored

Editorial

George Steinbrenner, Who Built Yankees Into Powerhouse, Dies at 80

Steinbrenner Remembered as Despot and Hero

Remembering Steinbrenner as a Seinfeld Star

Will Yankee Haters Have a Change of Heart?

The Night I Hugged Steinbrenner

Steinbrenner and the City: A Whirlwind

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.

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2 responses »

  1. Excellent post, it was a very good read for me! It is a sad time for the baseball world especially with the all star game being played on the same day, but I am also surprised at the amount of praise for the man who was once known as the most hated man in baseball. He definitely did do a lot for the New York Yankees and I’m sure the city is very grateful for it. I also kind of like/hate the fact that I have a team to hate in the Yankees because they just buy all their players. Also you think you could take a quick look at my blog cuz I really want to know what you think. http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/greatest-owner-ever-hardly/

    This kid asks me to come to his blog to see what I think of it…well, of course it’s a Yankee-hating blog with all the usual dreary accusations that the team isn’t that great, they just have a lot of money. Did he want to fight with me? Or did he think he’d change my mind? Absurd.

    To be honest, I did not read the whole thing–it was very long, and poorly written ( like many blogs are), and why would I want to hear more of this BS that I hear from so many people all the time? I have no interest in arguing with Yankee-haters. Let them have their fun…and let me have mine. I shouldn’t have to defend my love of the Yankees, but I always do: I was born in the Bronx. I used to listen to them on my transister radio when I was ten. They’re my team. Period.–MS

  2. I’m l little late getting here, Marcy, sorry…

    Although I’m a NL fan, I have enormous respect for the Yankees, always have. And to be honest, any time there’s a subway game, my money’s always on the pinstripes.

    As far as George – there’s no denying his impact on the game in general, and the Yankees in particular. The undeniable fact is, however, that Mr. Steinbrenner made many many bitter enemies throughout the course of his life (most are well-known to the casual fan, but many more are not). Some of his enemies have no connection to baseball, lest we forget that Steinbrenner was a large figure in the business world outside baseball.

    My feeling is that Steinbrenner had very few friends at the time of his death. But I think it should be acknowledged that even his bitterest enemies (among those making public comment) showed some class by not speaking ill of him following his passing. And the others showed restraint by keeping their mouths shut.

    Whatever can be said about George Steinbrenner, it should be remembered that he changed the landscape of team ownership forever. And Lord, did he ever love that team.

    Rest in peace, boss.

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