Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Two One of a Kinds Pass Away for the Yankees

It's been a rough past several days for New York Yankees fans.  Long time public address announcer Bob Sheppard passed away on Sunday at age 99.  Having been to so many Yankee games (and even NY Giants games where he was the public address announcer from 1956 to 2006), with the exception of Vin Scully, there was no more distinct voice in professional sports than Bob Sheppard.

Then today, the long time owner of the Yankees, George Steinbrenner passed away suddenly due to a heart attack at the age of 80.  Steinbrenner, to say the least, was a complicated man.  He was known for his volatile temper, his will to win, and his willingness to change managers seemingly as often as people change their bedsheets.  But he was also known for supporting many former NY Yankee players and stories have come out about his countless acts of charity, often many of which he did anonymously.

But what I will always remember most about Steinbrenner is what I said on my Facebook status today;

Say what you want about George Steinbrenner, but I will take the way he owned a baseball team ANY DAY over the likes of Peter Angelos, Robert Nutting (Pirates) and David Glass (Royals). George wanted to win no matter what and did whatever he could to win - hiring the right talent evaluators, putting as much money into the franchise as he got out of it. That's ownership.
Steinbrenner seemingly put as much money into the team that he profited out of it.   And it's not just the free agents his team has bought.  Look at the Yankees talented minor league system, which has been very good since the mid 90's.  That's due to investing in Latin America, Japan and the US minor league scouting system.  He took a team that was worth only 8.3 million in 1973 in a ballpark, which a friend of mine described that back then in the late 60's and early 70's as being "run down and filled with drug dealers" into an elite organization with a renovated monument to baseball (I loved the renovated Old Yankee Stadium) with seven World Championships during his tenure.

And he ended up getting his new Yankee Stadium, which I consider a giant palace/museum.  But he was able to do that because he knew the correct philosophy to successful ownership - you have to spend money to make money.   And he wanted to win..oh so wanted to win.  And that's why he was so successful.

An era ended today.

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