Tuesday, July 13, 2010

RIP Bob Sheppard & George M. Steinbrenner III

Over the last few days two New York sports icons died: legendary New York Yankee public address announcer Bob Sheppard over the weekend and the team’s larger than life owner George “The Boss” Steinbrenner this morning. Sheppard was the PA announcer for 57 years until he retired in 2007. George Steinbrenner had stepped down from principal ownership around that time, ceding control of the team to his two sons, Hank and Hal Steinbrenner. It was Hal, in the role of Michael Corleone who truly took the reins and lead the team to its 27th world championship, seventh in the Steinbrenner era.

Sheppard represented everything that was noble about sports, while the Boss represented everything that was good and bad, from the triumph of championships to the seediness of personal vendettas which led to his banning from the sport, and redemption upon his return to the game. I had a love/hate relationship with the Boss and was giddy when he was finally banned in 1990. I felt that all his meddling in the late 1980 had ruined the team. His departure allowed for the Yankee young talent such as Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada to develop in the minors which lead to the last Yankee dynasty in the late 1990s. Upon is return the Boss was more reserved in his actions and I grew in appreciation for what he has done for the team.

It is this career arc, amongst other things, that makes the Boss such an iconic sports figure. No New York sports team has had more success than the Yankees since Steinbrenner bought the team in 1973. The team has brought me great joy in celebrating the seven championships, disappointment in losing four World Series, and heartbreak at the death of Thurman Munson. Through it all the Boss was there. I’m thankful for all he has done for my favorite sports team and the memories—both good and bad—that he has brought us.