Recently, I finished reading Peter Golenbock’s new book – “George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built the Yankee Empire.” For those who can’t figure it out, this is a biography of the New York Yankees’ George Steinbrenner.
Now, as some of you may have heard, this book was poorly edited. I caught about a half-dozen mistakes and stopped counting at that point. However, when the media spotlight first hit this issue, Golenbock issued the following statement:
“I regret and take responsibility for the errors in my current book and am working with the publisher to have those corrected at the next possible printing. I appreciate the eagle-eyed baseball fans who brought it to my attention.”
So, I’m willing to write-off the lackluster editing job on this one – and focus on the book at a higher level rather than get hung-up over some typos and the like – now that this matter has been addressed and the promise has been made to correct it.
The first third of “George” is all about Big Stein’s pre-Yankees days. For me, this was extremely interesting as it provided a great foundation of the George Steinbrenner story. Golenbock conducted several interviews of those who knew “The Boss” as a child, teen, and young man. Through these interviews we get good insight on what it was like growing up Steinbrenner.
Actually, much of the book’s strength is derived via interviews of individuals from key points in George Steinbrenner’s life. And, there were many, many, interviews conducted and shared in this book. I especially enjoyed those of Mitch Kukevics (the former Yankees Director of Minor League Operations) and Leo Hindery (the former CEO of the YES Network). Those two alone make this book worth reading – if you want to know what it was like working for George when he was still functioning as the head of the Yanks’ organization. (And, they also tell you something about those working directly under Big Stein too.)
Now, to be fair, there’s quite a bit about the George Steinbrenner/Billy Martin relationship in “George.” (How could there not be?) And, I thought that those sections seemed to paint more of the picture from Billy Martin’s side (in terms of life under George) and not enough from George Steinbrenner’s side (in terms of what he had to put up with – in order to reap the benefits of Martin’s managerial genius). But, since I know that Peter Golenbock wrote a book with Billy Martin in the past, I can understand why he had more to pull from Billy, in terms of Martin’s experience, than George Steinbrenner’s angle.
What clearly comes across in this book is that there were two sides of George Steinbrenner. There is one side who would be more than willing to destroy the life of another individual if it meant that it would benefit Big Stein in some way – such as the way George threw former classmate and employee Jack Melcher under the bus during the whole Steinbrenner illegal campaign contribution matter. And, there is another side that is capable of magnanimous and anonymous charitable acts to benefit those with whom George had no relationship with, whatsoever, prior to the act.
It doesn’t seem possible that those two qualities could exist in the same person, does it? Yet, it does in George Michael Steinbrenner III. And, if you want to learn more about such an interesting character, I recommend reading “George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built the Yankee Empire.”
Look at it this way. George Steinbrenner is easily one of the most ten important people in the history of the New York Yankees organization. And, many fans only know part of the Steinbrenner story. If you’re a Yankees fan, why not take advantage of this book and learn the rest of it?