- At first, including George Steinbrenner in our Top Ten Most Memorable Moments in New York Yankees History seemed somewhat inappropriate. After all, he never slugged a game-winning home run and never pitched a perfect game. What moment could he possibly have contributed?
Well, the reason for George´s inclusion is the same reason for his mandatory inclusion in the Hall of Fame. He revived the Yankees franchise. Without him, many of the magical moments already on this list may never have happened. So how could he not be included, as well?
What always bothered me about George´s legacy, is the inaccurate depiction of his role. Misinformed and envious fans of other franchises insisted that he simply bought the parts that brought the Yankees back. Sure, Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter came to New York as free agents. But the real transformation came from George´s faith in General Manager Gabe Paul, who orchestrated one gritty trade after another to bring stars to the pinstripes.
Paul reeled in Chris Chambliss from Cleveland, Willie Randolph from Pittsburgh, Bucky Dent from Chicago among others. Steinbrenner, the wealthy ship builder, was smart enough to step aside and let Paul man the wheel.
Alright, George didn´t always resist the temptation to meddle into on-field matters, bitter battles with Billy Martin come to mind. But he was passionate enough to want Billy as the Yankees skipper. He knew that Billy´s combination of baseball wits and love for the Yankees was what the Bombers needed. And he remembered that each time he hired Billy back.
Growing up in the sixties, I had never really seen the Yankees win until George came along. I had the delusion that somehow an infield of Joe Pepitone, Horace Clarke, Gene Michael and Jerry Kenney was going to make it to the World Series. It was never going to happen. And the New York Yankees returning to glory was never going to happen either, not as long as CBS remained their owner. That´s when George marched into town like George Patton on a mission.
Chris Chambliss ´great home run to beat the Royals and win the American League Pennant, and Reggie Jackson´s three home runs to clinch the World Series may never have happened. Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, Joe Torre and Mariano Rivera may never have worn the Yankees uniform, if it wasn´t for George Steinbrenner.
So moment number three in our Most Memorable Moments in New York Yankees History goes to the day that George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees, on January 3, 1973. The “Boss” joins Derek Jeter, Reggie Jackson, Don Larsen, Thurman Munson, Bucky Dent, Mariano Rivera and Roger Maris on the list.
Up next, moment number two on Yanks Go Yard.