by Peter Golenbock
I had two chance encounters with George
Steinbrenner and both were memorable.
I was sitting in his office at Yankee
Stadium with the late Robert Merrill, the great opera
singer, who for many Yankee fans was better known as the
man who sang the "Star Spangled Banner." I was
interviewing Merrill for a profile. This was late 1980s.
Steinbrenner charged in, military stance, bristly and in
"What the hell are you doing here?" he snapped at me.
"I was invited in here by Mr.
When I explained, the Yankee principal
owner relaxed and told me to get myself a drink. I
I wanted to fully concentrate on my
interviewing job at hand. Hearing that and no longer of
interest to him apparently, Steinbrenner exited.
The second meeting was around the same
era at Madison Square Garden at half time in the VIP
quarters where drinks flowed freely and most tried to
show off their hoop IQs. Steinbrenner came by and
exchanged pleasantries with the late Red Holzman, then
the former and legendary coach of the New York Knicks
who I was with.
"The Boss" then turned to me.
"And you are writing Red's
"Yes," I said.
Those two encounters with G. Steinbrenner
revealed a lot about the man. But those two encounters
only were surface insights.
To read "George" by Peter Golenbock (Wiley, $26.95, 366
pages) is to get the total package of a complex, driven,
nasty man who has his "good side," too.
"George" is a page turner carefully crafted by one of
America's most skilled sports authors. It is a book that
is part Golenbock autobiography but all Steinbrenner.
Sub-titled "The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built The
Yankee Empire," is a tome created over a couple of
decades from more than 100 interviews and prodigious
Golenbock, a best
selling author several times over, has out-done himself
in this sweeping narrative of George Steinbrenner's life
and times. Golenbock has out-done himself in this
terrific tome that gives an up close and sometimes too
personal portrait of the man many have called "the
To read "George" is to read the definitive book on the
principal owner of the Yankees.
BOOKENDS: "The Baseball Economist" by J. C. Bradbury
(Plume, $15.00, 337 pages, paper) is a treatise and an
argument about many of baseball's cherished myths -
like steroids are not the reason for behind the breaking
of home run records, etc.
"The 1969 Miracle Mets" by Steven Travers
(The Lyons Press, $24.95, 185 pages) was created to pay
homage to one of the more popular NYC baseball teams.
Unfortunately, it falls short in many ways priced too
high for too little, rehashing rehashed data and
recycling stock photos Met fans deserve better.