Remembering SteinbrennerJuly 13th, 2010
Back when the Buccaneers were last for sale, Tampa icon George Steinbrenner assembled a group that entered a competitive bid to buy the Bucs.
Of course, Malcolm Glazer took home the prize with the fattest offer, and the rest is history.
With Steinbrenner dying today, Joe felt compelled to share a few Steinbrenner stories, as a way to remember the guy who was once motivated to buy the Bucs and keep them in Tampa.
Joe had many interactions with King George, as the New York tabloids often called him. Years ago, Joe was the Tampa Yankees beat writer for The Tampa Tribune. Those Yankees were the major league club’s A-ball affiliate.
Needless to say Joe typically was the only media guy at the games. Most nights it was just Joe and the Yankees famous pitching guru Billy Connors in the press box. So Joe subsequently learned an awful lot about evaluating pitchers — and about eating.
Occasionally, Steinbrenner would come down from his office at Legends Field to talk to Connors, and Steinbrenner was always extraordinarily respectful of Joe. Never talked down to him. And Joe remembers leaving the ballpark one night and seeing Steinbrenner picking up litter by hand in the parking lot. Yes, someone else’s garbage. A security guard later told Joe that this was not uncommon.
Joe also was the Tribune’s horse racing beat writer, and Steinbrenner once chewed Joe out at Tampa Bay Downs for continually referring to him in the newspaper as the owner of Kinsman Stable and for continuing to ask him to comment on the stable’s top horses.
Steinbrenner wanted Joe to give all credit related to the stable to his son Hank, who ran the stable and its breeding operation at that time.
Joe took a deep breath and explained to Steinbrenner that he was, in fact, the owner of Kinsman Stable and readers were much more interested in what he had to say rather than Hank. Joe told Steinbrenner that he wouldn’t stop referring to “George Steinbrenner’s Kinsman Stable.”
Steinbrenner proceeded to stare right through Joe’s skull. It was a long two seconds. Steinbrenner then slapped Joe on the back and told Joe to “keep up the hard work.”
Joe also remembers watching Steinbrenner handle the hecklers at the racetrack. Steinbrenner would walk right through the crowd and inevitably hear some Yankees jeers. He would often acknowledge the heckler and at times walk right up to him to talk it out.
It would have been a wild ride if Steinbrenner’s group bought the Bucs back in the mid 1990s.
While it’s doubtful the team would have enjoyed the success it had under Team Glazer, it’s also doubtful that Bucs fans would have been debating the team’s low-budget payroll for the past several years.
R.I.P., Mr. Steinbrenner.