• George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built the Yankee Empire

    Posted by on May 24th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    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?

    Comments on George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built the Yankee Empire

    1. thenewguy
      May 24th, 2009 | 2:04 pm

      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.

      You should make a list of who you think the Top 10 most important members of the Yankees organization throughout its history. It would probably take you a while to compile everything, but would be interesting.

    2. Joseph M
      May 25th, 2009 | 12:47 am

      I read the book a few weeks ago and I’m afraid I can’t recommend it. George Steinbrenner is a larger than life character who has built the most successful sports franchise in America over the last 30 plus years, he certainly deserves a better written book than this.

      Does the Goldenbock text bring something to the table, absolutely. We get the picture of a very driven man in need of constant ego fueling. We understand more about ourselves, while we abhor personalities of this type, we all like good results. George got them in spades, so in a way, all is forgiven. The book gives a behind the scene look at George as a family man and husband, information that has not been public knowledge up to this point and that’s an additional plus. We also get a clearer picture of George as his life winds down. I believe his family will sell the club at the very first opportunity it gets and we can see that day coming up in the near future.

      I thought the book was weak in some key areas, George’s purchase of the team could have been covered in a little more depth. I also thought the Winfield years and George’s relationship with Lou could have been given a little more depth.

      The real bad news of course are the errors. Steve, let’s be clear here if this was a term paper this guy would be lucky to get a C. What Ed Wood was to film making, Goldenbock is to non fiction writing. Some chapters have more than one error per page, at times making one feel like the old Highlight Magazine days, trying to pick out the errors hidden in the text. Denny Mclain on the 84 Tigers, Roger Maris in the Hall of Fame, Willie Randolph on the 75 Yankees, Billy Martin fired by Texas in 1974, Yankees winning the pennant in 1924 and 1959, Reggie Jackson driving in 14 runs in the 78 series, Munson’s plane crash September of 79 . It goes on and on to such a point that it strains the reliability of anything he writes. “Eagle-eyed baseball fans”, Mr. Magoo could spot the errors.

      George Steinbrenner is too interesting a public figure for a bio like this.

    3. May 25th, 2009 | 11:57 pm

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