It was a nice scene today as George Steinbrenner, surrounded by his family, saw the field renamed in his honor.
People lined up to say what a great man he is and how much he has done for charity. By all accounts, they are exactly right. He has put kids through college, helped wounded servicemen, donated to countless organizations, etc.
I had people tell me today that there are literally hundreds of good acts he has done that have gone unpublicized. In Florida, New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, etc. Do you know he donates thousands to the Jimmy Fund, the official charity of the Red Sox?
But there were also hundreds of people who heard about today’s ceremony and were probably sick to their collective stomachs.
Steinbrenner is also the same guy who has fired dozens of employees for no reason. He has made life miserable for some people who worked at his stadiums, his horse farm and his hotels. He once fired a dozen people who worked for the team because he was upset with a new CBA between the owners and the MLBPA.
Jokes are made about it now, but it wasn’t funny for the people who ruined their marriages or had to uproot their families.
Steinbrenner gave illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon and hired a small-time crook to dig up dirt on Dave Winfield. Those offenses got him suspended from baseball. Hank Steinbrenner has said many times that he wanted nothing to do with the Yankees for years because he couldn’t stand working for his father.
He’s an infirm old man, so he’ll get a pass from most of us. I suspect all of the stories tomorrow will reflect well on him, as they probably should. Fans tend to overlook the past because Steinbrenner spends money on the roster. They tend to forget that he charges high prices for tickets and concessions and that next season only the wealthy will sit anywhere close to the field. Or that the Yankees were mismanaged for years under his watch.
There’s no easy answer to this. He’s been a good guy and he’s been a bad guy. As with most things in life, there is no absolute right or wrong, only shades of gray. Those he did right by will love him. Those he tormented will hate him.
But nobody will forget him, that we do know.
Meanwhile, these guys rank our blog No. 25 in the country in terms of popularity. I may pull a Pavano and retire.