I was at the MLB All-Star Game last year, and watched as George Steinbrenner was driven around the Yankee Stadium diamond in a golf cart during pregame ceremonies. That may well be the last significant public appearance for Steinbrenner, who is now apparently wheelchair-bound.
Steinbrenner was at a Yankees Spring Training game in Tampa yesterday, and reportedly was not able to walk.
From the Pat Borzi of the NYT:
Now, Steinbrenner needs help to get around. About half an hour before the start of Tuesday night’s Yankees-Red Sox game at Steinbrenner Field, two Yankees employees prepared a wheelchair in the wide hallway across from the Yankees’ clubhouse. One couldn’t decide whether to put one cushion on the chair or two. “One,” the other said. “He likes one.”
I worked as a broadcaster for the Yankees Triple-A affiliate in Columbus in the late ’90s, and met and interviewed Steinbrenner several times. Based on the man I knew then, I can’t imagine he would want to be seen in public in a wheelchair. Thus my thought that his days as a public person are over.
If that is indeed the case, Steinbrenner certainly went out with a whimper. At that All-Star Game tribute, the reception he received from the Yankee Stadium crowd was muted at best.
But I will miss him. Not because he was such an interesting, dynamic or even competent person. No, it’s just that his sons, Hank and Hal, are such sad sacks.
Now the only thing left in regards to the The Boss is does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Now if Cooperstown has any credibility left, which is now in question, Steinbrenner will be inducted before his death. I’m from KC and grew up hating the man during our great rivalry with the Yanks in the late ’70s, but he unquestionably deserves to be enshrined.
I certainly wouldn’t classify Steinbrenner as a great man, but his stewardship of the Yankees deserves recognition. The only thing that should matter to the HOF is what happens on the field, and Steinbrenner did more than most everyone in The Game during the second half of his tenure in The Big Apple.