Dear Mr. Steinbrenner,
There is little that I can say that hasn’t already been said by better writers and bigger Yankee fans than me. Still, I wanted to take a moment to say goodbye.
I became a Yankees fan just as the Bombers began building their dynasty. Some may think it was a bit opportunistic on my part, but I know how I felt. It had a little to do with that young shortstop and that outfielder named Bernie, and a lot to do with my boyfriend at the time, a guy who soldiered through the Mattingly era and waited a long time for a championship (which is a hard thing to do when you’re also a Maple Leafs fan). You had already been somewhat of a cultural icon/force to be reckoned with for at least 20 years by that time.
With each passing year, I loved your Yankees a little more – through championships and heartbreaking World Series losses and 2004 and when they didn’t make the postseason. Of course, we saw a lot less of you by then. But we knew you were always around. Always committed to win.
(and yeah, I married the Yankee fan)
We know you weren’t a saint. In fact, quite often, you were a certified dick. You made some bad choices, and you spent a lot of money foolishly. You pissed other owners off, made a laughing stock of the managerial firing process and kept writers busy with your antics. I once said I like my beer cold, my shortstops cute and my owners bat-shit crazy.
You weren’t a saint, but you did some wonderful things for people, particularly children. You could be very kind. Sure, when your pockets are deep as yours were writing a cheque seems so easy. But the fact is, you performed simple acts of generosity that meant so much to so many. That’s a legacy worth noting.
I also appreciate that you were able to laugh at yourself from time to time. Did you ever find that calzone?
Most of all, I appreciate that you cared about putting a good baseball team out there night after night, that you cared about giving New Yorkers and fans around the world a reason to cheer. True, it meant ridiculous profits for you. But we were able to share your passion for winning. We know you weren’t the guy on the mound, or in right field, or in the dugout making changes to the lineup card. Still, you were a Yankee, and you were as much a part of those championship wins through the years as Reggie, Derek, Joe and Mariano.
This is our loss as Yankee fans, but it is also baseball’s loss – just ask Red Sox fans who put their collective arms around us in solidarity this week. We know the Yankees will be in good hands going forward – hell, we were the best in the league when you left! But the baseball world is a little less exciting now without you.
Here’s hoping that wherever you are, you’re rocking a fresh turtleneck, you met up Bob Sheppard and you managed to fire Billy Martin again for old times’ sake.