The Duke and The Boss: New York Pillars Gone Forever

July 13, 2010

This warm July night brings baseball fans the Major League Baseball all-star game. In fact, that game will be played tonight in Anaheim, California with a handful of Yankee players on the roster, including SS Derek Jeter. It seems fitting that Yankees owner George Steinbrenner would pass away on a date, that had historical meaning to the game of baseball. The Boss passed away this morning from a heart attack, he was 80 years old and had lived one of the fullest lives of any man on earth. Can you imagine waking up every morning and saying “I own the New York Yankees”. Can you imagine doing that since the seventies?

If you had to sum up George Steinbrenner in one word, it would have to be “Winner” because it was all he ever talked about. The Boss loved Championship rings and trophies more then anything else, other then his family of course and some might even question that.

I can’t stand to hear the haters saying, “The Yankees buy their championships” to which I always reply, “Excuse me but you do know that every single team owner is a billionaire right? You do understand that an owner who has made their money through selling toothbrushes or making condiments has a primary job? Every MLB team could do what the Yankees do financially but they don’t because they choose not to. The Yankees are in the business of the Yankees and not in the business of real estate conglomerates or dot com companies. The profits that the Yankees make go back into the Yankee system. The money other teams make could possibly go towards their primary non-baseball business. Steinbrenner was passionate about baseball and that’s a big difference, so get it right. He was also stubborn. Which is why he eventually told Cablevision to go to hell and created his own TV channel called “The YES Network” when he didn’t approve of how the Yankees were being handled. Let’s be honest, Steinbrenner got things done and who can hate a guy for doing his job well? The competition.

There will no doubt be a tribute to “The Boss” tonight at the all-star game and could there ultimately be a tribute song to “The Boss” by “The Boss”? Creative minds keep working through grief and sadness.

A spike was driven into the earth in 1925, creating a wide hole in order to place a pillar. The Mara family planted that pillar when they purchased the New York Giants for $500 dollars. Talk about pure “big blue” blood. For 85 years, the Mara family has been a light to the Tri-State area and the Giants have a reputation as one of the classiest organizations in sports. There are too many charities to list here and too many acts of kindness to mention. Some things go beyond sports and Wellington Mara was a larger then life man. “The Duke” passed away five years ago in October 2005, he was 89 years old God bless him and his legacy continues and has remained strong. The world needs more old school men like Mr. Mara is this era of being PC. With each passing year we can pick out one or two game changers or stand outs. In the football world, the Mara family is held in extremely high regard. Wellington “The Duke” Mara was born in New York and went to school in New York all the way through college. He was also enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

There is something to be said for family and fans will still be able to hold on to the familiar names of those who own the teams they cheer for. Both the Mara family and Steinbrenner family have blood running things. You have Hank and Hal in the Bronx and you have John and Tim in East Rutherford. Those are the more public names that people know of but trust me there are many more and why shouldn’t there be? Any one of us would be doing the same thing for family and friends if we were in that position. Nepotism sucks only for those outside of the circle right? The words nepotism and loyalty can become confused when applied to the same subject, such as who should be running these teams. Personally, I give both the Mara boys and Steinbrenner boys my full support. They own and operate the teams I have loved all of my life. Disagreements will happen but fans need to stand behind these men and give them a chance to show what they can do.

The passing of legendary announcer Bob Sheppard yesterday, who was the stadium announcer for both the Giants and Yankees for over 50 years, seems to add insult to injury. He takes with him the “voice of God” moniker that was bestowed upon him and a generations worth of loyalty and love from the fans. Even I cannot deny the chills I felt standing in a silent stadium, filled with tens of thousands of people listening to Sheppard speak. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

The reader must understand that none of the men mentioned in this article can ever be replaced within the New York community. They have become that which all else is compared to and will forever hold a special meaning in the lives of fans around the globe. They are the benchmark, to which everyone must refer, in order to learn how to do things the right way.

RD –

R.I.P. Wellington “The Duke” Mara

R.I.P. George “The Boss” Steinbrenner

R.I.P. Bob “The Voice of God” Sheppard