By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

George Steinbrenner, 1930-2010

The New York Times just confirmed that New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has died. Perhaps now we’ll learn why such a bombastic man was virtually silent during the last years of his life.

Probably no one did more to define the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry from the 1970s on than Steinbrenner. Loudmouthed bully, profligate spender, felonious friend of Richard Nixon — he always gave Red Sox fans someone to root against.

Derek Jeter liked him, so Steinbrenner must have had a good side as well.

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  1. Steve Stein

    Whatever else he was, George Steinbrenner was a man of great generosity. His donations in the late 70s were responsible for the modernization of MIT’s athletic fields (his father was an MIT alum), and his recent donations continue to fund improvements in the facilities there.

    He was generous in smaller, less public ways as well. A friend of the family was working at the dining hall at his private school in Indiana. Steinbrenner’s granddaughters attended the same school, and my friend happened to be waiting on George and the family one day. At the end of the meal, he was stunned to find that George had left him a $500 tip.

  2. Mike Benedict

    Dan, regarding why he was so quiet, the reason most likely was his Alzheimer’s. Franz Lidz’s 2007 piece on the Boss says it all:

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Mike: I’d heard the rumors like everyone else, but didn’t think they’d ever been confirmed.

  3. John F.J. Sullivan

    Give the man this: He returned the Yankees to their loathsome greatness.

  4. “At the end of the meal, he was stunned to find that George had left him a $500 tip.”

    Makes me feel like I got shortchanged by the $20 he gave me for showing him to his seat at Continental Airlines Arena! He was the only person to ever tip me for that job, and I couldn’t have been prouder to have been on the same payroll as Reggie, Donnie Baseball, and Jeter.

  5. Although his demeanor wasn’t my cup of tea, GS did revitalize a Yankees franchise that had become moribund. He cared about winning and invested heavily in putting a competitive product on the field, unlike MLB owners in other cities such as Pittsburgh who pocket the revenue-sharing $$$ they receive from the Yankees instead of recruiting top players. And, notwithstanding his intemperate remark about “Boo Boo” Irabu, there is no evidence that GS was racist, unlike revered Sox owner Tom Yawkey.

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