I heard him scream, he screamed at me. I heard him curse, he cursed at me. I saw him fire people, he fired me. I saw him cry, he cried with me.
When I fell down with emotional pain, he picked me up and held me until the pain went away.
I’m talking about George Steinbrenner. He was probably the most complex yet best man I have ever known.
The world knows what he did for sports. By now the World has excepted the fact that he was a visionary. In 1979 i remember him urging me to go back to school because he wanted me to study business that dealt with overall record keeping. I didn’t listen and today baseball is all about Analytics.
There was always a method to his madness. He was always way ahead of his time and I honestly believe that he knew it. He was always in a hurry. The problem was that most people couldn’t keep up with his pace.
If the team lost a playoff series the next morning he would be the first person at the office ready to start planning for the next season.
I will never forget in 1995 Ken Griffey jr scored the winning run for the Mariners and within an hour I received a call from him to tell me that he wanted to meet with Dwight Gooden at a restaurant in Tampa the next evening so that he could sign him to a Yankee contract. He was already planning for the next season. That’s just who he was. No job was to big or to small. He dressed impeccably almost like his movie star friends yet he didn’t care that sometimes he had to get his hands dirty.
One time in 1978 he was driving into the Yankee Stadium parking lot after a long road trip. He was disgusted because there was a lot of broken bottles and cans all over. He had me get some brooms and he screamed out that if you wanted something done sometimes you have to do it yourself. It was early in the morning and he saw a little black kid standing by the gate. The Boss walked over to him and asked why wasn’t he in school. The kid said that it was a holiday. The Boss told the kid that if he was just going to stand there that he was going to have to help us. The kid agreed and did a nice job. The Boss thanked him and started to walk into the stadium. All of a sudden he stopped and asked the kid if he wanted a job. The kid smiled and said Yes Sir! The Boss took him down to the visitor’s clubhouse and told the Clubhouse manager to put the boy to work as a batboy. The Boss would actually check on batboy Sam Carey and periodically took him on the road. The only time that the Boss got mad at Sam was in 1983 he asked for Sam and I had to tell him that Sam had gotten a job with the Circus. Yes, you heard me right, Sam got a job touring the world with The Circus. Mr. Steinbrenner laughed out loud and said … That fool kid. I asked the Boss why did he say that and he responded… Didn’t Sam realize that with the Yankees he was already in the Circus?
To write about George Steinbrenner it has to be in a book as big as War & Peace. A column just doesn’t do him justice especially if I wrote all about the work he did for many people in the Bronx alone.
I remember one time him sitting on the picnic table that was in the middle of the clubhouse and he just stared at me. He could tell that something was really bothering me. I told him that a cousin that lived in my house was having a lot of issues in the street. He told me to bring him to the stadium and we would put him to work. I was so excited and Couldn’t wait for him Unfortunately by the time I got to him, he had been shot and killed in a street incident gone bad.
Mr. Steinbrenner did hire many of my friends and what is ironic is the fact that many of them would go into Law enforcement. My childhood friend Hector Pagan a batboy would become one of the most decorated DEA Agents in the country. There is no coincidence that two of my sons would become extremely respected Police officers. The Boss actually told my son Jon – Erik that if he played baseball anything like your father you better become a cop. Mr. Steinbrenner was always proud of the fact that he and his long-time pal Jim Fuchs, The great track and field Olympic star would create the Silver Shield. A foundation that helped the families of police officers killed in the line of duty.
I learned a lot from this great man, one of the most important things was that never be afraid to share your tears with others. When I saw him cry with his team after Thurman Munson died I knew that there was crying in baseball. More importantly, I realized how much love there truly is in the great game of Baseball.
Mr. Steinbrenner actually introduced me to the film A Bronx Tale because he thought the two lead characters mirrored our relationship. He even introduced me to Chazz Palminteri the star of this great film and when we get together we always talk about the Boss and our love of the Yankees. This film actually helped me understand why I will always have such deep respect for George Steinbrenner… The man that will always be the only BOSS!!!