With the door seemingly closed on the George Steinbrenner Era, it seems appropriate for a review of the Tampa shipbuilder’s time at the helm of baseball’s most storied team. George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built The Yankee Empire promises “an exciting and compelling story well told,” and by and large, it delievers. And this is coming from a guy that would have celebrated in the streets had Al-Qaeda decided to crash a couple of planes into Yankee Stadium in April, in a manner of speaking.
Golenbeck’s well-researched book chronicles Steinbrenner’s days as a spoiled little ass growing up in Cleveland, his antics in the Air Force and as an assistant football coach, and ultimately his forays into sports ownership. Steinbrenner’s dickish ways were first on display as owner of the Cleveland Pipers of the old ABL, but would assume a more prominent stage in 1973, when he would lead a group of investors to buy the New York Yankees from CBS for $10 million, a paltry sum when one considers what the landmark franchise is worth today.
The meat of the book begins here, as Golenbeck chronicles Steinbrenner’s relentless tormenting of players, managers, and front office staff alike. The Billy Martin saga, The Dave Winfield contract, and his two suspensions from Major League Baseball are laid out–by the people that were there–in a way that may shatter your image of the guy that was so lovably parodied on “Seinfeld.” Golenbeck’s subject is nowhere near lovable, and the evidence might blow your mind. Read the rest of this entry »