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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Just win

“Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.”
- George M. Steinbrenner III

New York Yankees principal owner George M. Steinbrenner III passed away last Tuesday morning at his home in Tampa, Fl from a massive heart attack; he was 80 years old. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, children Hank, Hal, Jessica and Jennifer, several grandchildren and most importantly, Yankees Universe.

In the wake of Mr. Steinbrenner’s passing, I began writing about his infamous business practices throughout his tenure as owner. As I greeted each of the popular criticisms of “The Boss” and the Yankees, I came to a realization. Regardless if the Yankees organization is right or wrong when it comes to the usage of their resources and finances, it would not matter. Haters will be haters, and jealously is a crutch for the weak.

As a businessman, Mr. Steinbrenner would not settle on being average or good. His business and true love was the New York Yankees. He did anything and everything that was necessary to be as successful as possible. For example, you must do whatever it takes to care and provide for your family’s well-being. If not, you are not doing your best nor your job. Mr. Steinbrenner not only had a responsibility to his family, but the responsibility of Yankees Universe.

He understood that the fans of the Yankees around the world deserved an organization whose goal was not only to play into October, but win championships. During his 37 years of ownership the Yankees won seven World Series Championships. The 11 American League Pennants and 16 division titles would be an incredible accomplishment for any other team to celebrate, but in New York it’s a lost season and opportunity.

"The Boss" leaves us with many impressions from his larger than life being. The most lasting characteristic we will remember him by is his will to be the best. As clearly stated above by Mr. Steinbrenner, winning was everything. His tenacity and drive to win could not be matched by anyone, as he directed his troops in a General Patton-esque manner. But it was a two-way street; he demanded the most from each of his employees as he would for himself.

Mr. Steinbrenner exemplified the meaning of a Yankee: greatness. From day one in 1973, his message to his team was that he was going to bring back the pride, tradition, honor and championship glory to the once proud franchise. Over time, he brought this mentality and way of life back to the Bronx. Through the spirit of Mr. Steinbrenner, Yankees Universe will continue to reign as the pinnacle of all professional sports.

Rest in peace Mr. Steinbrenner, and thank you for all you have done for our organization. You will truly be missed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The voice of my childhood

His voice resonated throughout my household as a child. My father and I would impersonate some of his most famous calls. Among our favorites were, “Now batting…number two…Derek Jee-Tah…number two,” and “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Yankee Stadium.”

Sunday, July 11, 2010, the baseball community lost its voice. The New York Yankees Public Address Announcer, Bob Sheppard, died at his home in Baldwin, NY at the age of 99.

Growing up in Chester, NY, I became a devout New York Yankees fan. As a young baseball player, my dream was to have my name announced by Mr. Sheppard as I walked into the batter box of Yankee Stadium. While playing in my backyard or in the school yard with friends, we would often announce ourselves in a Sheppard-esque manner. My personalized call was, “Now batting…number 23…Robert Demetrious…number 23.” Unfortunately, due to the retirement of Don Mattingly’s number (my favorite player), I was unable to become a professional baseball player.

As I have stated in previous blog entries, my grandfather (to whom this blog is dedicated), introduced me to the tradition, the pride, and the honor of the New York Yankees. Mr. Sheppard represented these three attributes as well as anyone throughout his life. He is a true Yankee.

Throughout his 56 years of service behind the mic, Mr. Sheppard brought joy to millions, leaving a legacy that will forever stand the test of time. The vividness, pitch, tone and clarity of his distinguished voice will never fade. Though he is no longer with us on earth, his soul, his spirit, and his true love for the game of baseball will live on within all of us forever. We have been blessed to have the opportunity of listening to “The Voice of God” for 56 wonderful years.

Mr. Sheppard is not retiring though; he’s actually calling a game tonight. The home team’s lineup includes Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Thurman Munson. His opening statement will be along the lines of, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Great baseball field in the sky.”

Have fun Mr. Sheppard, and thank you for being the voice of my childhood.

I have included a link to a youtube video tribute to Bob Sheppard. Enjoy!