Tuesday, July 13, 2010

RIP: George Steinbrenner

I offer my condolences to the New York Yankees, their fans, and the family of George Steinbrenner. Say what one can about the frequent coverage of the Yankees and Red Sox on ESPN but Steinbrenner has left a tremendous legacy on the game.

George Steinbrenner in his own words:
"Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing," George Steinbrenner once said. "Breathing first, winning next."[...]

"I have nothing against long hair, but wearing a Yankee uniform represents tradition. I think a Yankee should look well-groomed. After all, I'm paying the bills and issuing the paychecks around here and I feel a certain way about the Yankee tradition." (Oct. 1977)

"I wouldn't sell the Yankees for anything. Owning the Yankees is like owning the Mona Lisa. You don't sell it." (Oct. 1979)

"When you start talking about the best team money can buy, the Red Sox have as many free agents as we do. They just didn't pay as much." (Oct. 1979)

"I'm like a fan. I live with the Yankees and I die with the Yankees." (March 1981)

"I clocked them. There are two guys in town looking for their teeth." -- After his reported fight with two Dodgers fans in an elevator in a Los Angeles hotel during the 1981 World Series (Oct. 1981)[...]

"Billy Martin will manage the entire season." (June 26, 1978; Martin was fired July 24th, the first of five times by Steinbrenner)[...]

"The next time you drive me to the wall, I'll throw you over it." -- To Martin (July 1977)

"What do you mean try? If I want to fire you, I'll fire you." -- After Martin doused him with World Series champagne and said "That's for trying to fire me." (Oct. '77)

"I would say our relationship really, and this may sound crazy -- we're pals." -- on Martin, who he hired and fired five times (Jan. 1983)

"I can't criticize Billy's style and personality. In many ways, it's a lot like mine." (Dec. 1983)
Bud Selig's statement on Steinbrenner's passing:
"On behalf of Baseball, I am very saddened by the passing this morning of George Steinbrenner. George was a giant of the game and his devotion to baseball was surpassed only by his devotion to his family and his beloved New York Yankees. He was and always will be as much of a New York Yankee as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and all of the other Yankee legends.

I have known George ever since he entered the game in 1972. He was my dear friend for nearly four decades. Although we would have disagreements over the years, they never interfered with our friendship and commitment to each other. Our friendship was built on loyalty and trust and it never wavered. We were allies and friends in the truest sense of the words.

My wife, Sue, and I pass on our deepest sympathies to the Steinbrenner family, to the New York Yankees and to all of his friends. We will miss him, especially tonight when the baseball family will be gathered at Angel Stadium for the All-Star Game."
ESPN has various reactions to Steinbrenner's death.

Yogi Berra:
"George was The Boss, make no mistake. He built the Yankees into champions and that's something nobody can ever deny. He was a very generous, caring, passionate man. George and I had our differences, but who didn't? We became great friends over the last decade and I will miss him very much."
Joe Torre:
"I will always remember George Steinbrenner as a passionate man, a tough boss, a true visionary, great humanitarian, and a dear friend. I will be forever grateful that he trusted me with his Yankees for 12 years. My heart goes out to his entire family. He will be deeply missed in New York, Tampa and throughout the world of baseball. It's only fitting that he went out as a world champ."
Lou Piniella:
"George was like a father figure to me. He treated me well, he treated me fair and he gave me a wonderful opportunity to play and manage the game we all love. George will be remembered as one of the most influential and renowned owners of a franchise in sports history. He leaves a legacy of winning and an unwavering passion for success. My wife Anita and I send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Steinbrenner family and the Yankees organization. George was very special to me and I loved him."
Don Mattingly:
"His vision, passion and commitment to winning, recharged the New York Yankees and revolutionized the game. I remember a man driven to succeed. He was the owner, "The Boss" and number one fan of the Yankees. Our relationship was built on mutual respect. I will never forget and always be grateful for how he treated me and my family both during my playing days and after I retired."
Dave Winfield:
"He didn't want to lose at all. A [player] had to come in there and want to win, know how to win, and lay it all on the line. Otherwise, they were in trouble ... they'll have to look at him as one of the top owners in sports."
Tim Raines:
"He was 'The Boss.' He wanted to win and I admired him for that. He might not have done things the way people expected them to be done, but he wanted to win. It's one of the main reasons why I wanted to come to New York, because he made sure his teams had an opportunity to win."
John Henry:
"I had the good fortune to call George Steinbrenner both partner and friend. I had the privilege to watch George as he built a system that ensured his beloved Yankees would have a strong foundation for sustained excellence. And then we fiercely competed in the American League. George Steinbrenner forever changed baseball and hopefully some day we will see him honored in baseball's Hall of Fame as one of the great figures in the history of sports."
Tom Werner:
"George Steinbrenner was a formidable opponent and baseball's greatest rivalry will not be the same without him. As the longest tenured owner, he left an indelible mark on the game. I worked with George in my position as the owner of two Major League franchises and saw first-hand his passionate leadership style, his zeal for winning, and his love for the game. Above all, I knew George as a competitor and today Red Sox Nation lost a person who truly relished the prospect of facing the Red Sox and doing all he could to make sure his beloved Yankees would come out victorious."
Tommy Lasorda:
"George was a friend who I admired very much. He was a giant in our game and he built an empire. All he was was a winner. He wanted to give the fans a winner, and that's exactly what he did."
Jerry Seinfeld:
"Who else could be a memorable character on a television show without actually appearing on the show? You felt George even though he wasn't there. That's how huge a force of personality he was."
Jason Alexander:
"I met the real George Steinbrenner on only one occasion when he actually came and played himself on an episode of "Seinfeld." He seemed to really enjoy himself. I did not get to know him but the fact that he allowed himself and his beloved team to be satirized on our show is an indication to me of his true character. He was certainly a legend and I am pleased to have been associated with him, even if only in fiction."
Rudy Giuliani:
"George was a friend of mine for over 30 years. He was truly the most influential and innovative owner in all of sports. He transformed baseball and sports broadcasting with the YES Network and brought New York seven World Series. Beyond that, he made the Yankees a source of great pride in being a New Yorker. George Steinbrenner's Yankees represent the will to overcome all odds which is precisely the will New Yorkers display when meeting every challenge they face."
Mario Cuomo:
"Everyone knows George Steinbrenner went from loser to legend by taking a second division team with a struggling franchise in 1973 and turning it into a champion again. But he was much more than a winner and a celebrity. There was no falseness in him. He did everything with his heart: His family, his friends, his team, his nation and his community. I'm not surprised that in the end he died by wearing it out."
Michael Bloomberg:
"Few people have had a bigger impact on New York over the past four decades than George Steinbrenner. George had a deep love for New York, and his steely determination to succeed combined with his deep respect and appreciation for talent and hard work made him a quintessential New Yorker."

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