The late Tom McEwen, sports editor of The Tampa Times from 1958-62 before being named sports editor of The Tampa Tribune in 1962, graced the Tribune sports section with his award-winning column, The Morning After, and his Breakfast Bonus notes columns were a signature offering from the 19-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year. McEwen died in June, 2011 at the age of 88. His wife, Linda, occasionally contributes past columns and exerpts to this blog.
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Thank you and bless you, George
Posted Jul 13, 2010 by Tom McEwen
Updated Jul 14, 2010 at 08:16 AM
George Steinbrenner was as good a friend as I have had. I was as good a friend as he had. George Steinbrenner died Tuesday morning. He was 80. Too young to leave us. He had so much more to share with us. I will miss him, as most of us will. He touched so many in these years on this earth as a man, husband, father, grandfather, son, counselor, and good friend.
I knew GMS well, admired him, admired his grit, his determination and win at almost any cost philosophy that returned the proud Yankees to the glories of other times, ignoring complaints from co-owners that there is nothing quite so limited as being a limited partner with George Steinbrenner. He was suspended from baseball for two years in the 1970s, but returned to put the Yankees back on top. Steinbrenner along the way assembled an unmatched assembly of players of great pride and success, reaching the World Series 11 times and winning the Fall Classic seven times.
Tampa, Florida, America will miss this patriotic man so devoted to this country that gave him opportunities and the successes he had in Tampa, in New York, Ohio, and all of the other places where he made contributions through a lifetime that included much of his golden years as owner of the New York Yankees — which he bought when they were in dire straits — and made them champions.
Lord, did he love the Yankees and their successes through the golden years of unmatched championships. He gave the Yankees and their legions what he believed they wanted and needed, including three straight World Series championships from 1998 to 2000. Those titles started a run in which the Yankees appeared in the American League Championships seven times between 1996 and 2004, winning the pennant six times. Put simply, Steinbrenner and his Yankees returned the Bronx Bombers to their former glory.
Some years ago, the Yankees were playing an exhibition game against the University of South Florida at Red McEwen Field (Steinbrenner had insisted the field be named for my late brother, a Bulls booster). After the game, GMS was about to autograph the last two baseballs for two youngsters.
Joking, George asked one of the kids, “what’s the matter, cat got your tongue?” The other kid replied, “No, sir, this fellow can’t talk but he is going to get that fixed soon.”
GMS, embarrassed, told an associate to get the kid’s name and address and arrange for the young man to go to the Sloan Kettering Institute in New York for treatment. Arrangements were completed, we later found out, and the kid was soon talking.
Now these days, Steinbrenner’s Yankees are positioning themselves for another race to another championship. Be assured Yankee manager Joe Girardi has told the Yankees this season will be dedicated to the Boss and believe me, George’s passing will cause more unattached baseball fans to assemble behind this team.
I certainly know the Yankees are in no need of more fans, but believe me, they will be assembling as we speak of George Steinbrenner in the past tense. We all know no one can live forever, but this time, perhaps George could have been some kind of an exception. We all are going to sorely miss George Steinbrenner as a leader, a sage and a man of vision. I mentioned earlier that I had no better friend and nor did he. That bears repeating. We are all going to have a sense of loss with George Steinbrenner not among us for counsel, leadership and presence. I already miss this sports giant and I am sure that you do too.
Good trip, GMS.