It is with great sadness that I note the passing of a gentleman who cast a tremendous cultural shadow across New York City, if not the whole of the United States, during his lifetime. A polarizing figure during his heyday, we can all agree this mortal coil is a poorer place without his presence.
Much will be written today about Steinbrenner’s commitment to winning, his willingness to spend freely on talent, his devotion to former players (including, it should be said, ex-Yankees in dire need of help) and his tremendous role in reshaping the economics of modern baseball if not all of professional sports. Not nearly as much will be written about his illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon’s campaign, the nonsensical feud with Dave Winfield (and subsequent suspension for paying Howard Spira to dig up dirt on “Mr. May”), the shameful treatment of the late Dick Howser, the alienation of Yogi Berra or bogus claims of an elevator brawl with Dodger fans during the 1981 World Series (a Yankee defeat that ended with Steinbrenner showing up his team by issuing a public apology for the loss).