I heard him scream, he screamed at me. I heard him curse, he cursed at me. I saw him fire people, he fired me. I saw him cry, he cried with me.
When I fell down with emotional pain, he picked me up and held me until the pain went away.
I’m talking about George Steinbrenner.
He was probably the most complex, yet best man I've ever known.
The world knows what he did for sports.
By now the world has excepted the fact that he was a visionary.
In 1979 I remember him urging me to go back to school because he wanted me to study the business that dealt with overall record keeping.
I didn’t listen and today baseball is all about analytics.
There was always a method to Steinbrenner's madness.
He was always way ahead of his time, and I honestly believe that he knew it.
He was always in a hurry.
The problem was, most people couldn’t keep up with his fast pace.
If the team lost a playoff series the next morning he would be the first person at the office ready to start planning for the next season.
I'll never forget in 1995, when Ken Griffey, Jr., scored the winning run for the Seattle Mariners; within an hour I received a call from him telling me he wanted to meet with Dwight Gooden — at a Tampa Florida restaurant the next evening — so he could sign him to the Yankees.
Mr. Steinbrenner was already planning for the next season. That’s just who he was.
No job was too big or too small.
He dressed impeccably, almost like his movie star friends, yet he didn’t care that sometimes he had to get his hands "dirty."
On one occasion, in 1978, he was driving into the Yankee Stadium parking lot, following a long road trip. He was disgusted because there were a lot of broken bottles and cans all over the place.
He asked me to get some brooms and he screamed out that if you wanted something done sometimes you have to do it yourself.
It was early in the morning and he saw a little Black kid standing by the gate.
The Boss walked over to him, asking him why he wasn’t in school.
The kid said that it was a holiday.
The Boss told him that if he was just going to stand there that he was going to have to help us. The kid agreed and did a nice job. The Boss thanked him and started walking to the stadium. Then he suddenly stopped, asking him if he wanted a job.
The kid smiled and replied, "Yes Sir!"
The Boss took him down to the visitors clubhouse and told the Clubhouse manager to put the boy to work as a team batboy. The Boss would actually check on batboy Sam Carey and periodically took him on the road.
The only time the Boss got mad at Sam was in 1983.
He asked for Sam, and I had to tell him that Sam had gotten a job with the circus.
Yes you heard me right, Sam got a job touring the world with the circus.
Steinbrenner laughed out loud and said, "That fool kid."
I asked the Boss why he said that and he responded, "Didn’t Sam realize that with the Yankees he was already in the circus?!"
To write about George Steinbrenner would mean a book the size of "War and Peace."
A column just doesn’t do him justice, especially if I wrote all about the work he did for many people in the Bronx alone.
I remember one time he was sitting on the picnic table that was in the middle of the clubhouse, just staring at me.
He could tell that something was really bothering me. I told him that a cousin of mine who lived in my house was having a lot of issues in the street. He told me to bring him to the stadium and we would put him to work.
I was so excited and couldn’t wait to tell my cousin.
Unfortunately, by the time I got to him, he had been shot and killed during a street incident gone bad.
George Steinbrenner did hire many of my friends and what is ironic is the fact that many of them went on to careers in law enforcement.
My childhood friend Hector Pagan, a batboy, would become one of the most decorated Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Agents in the country.
Another friend, Errol Toulon, would become the first Black Sheriff in the history of Long Island. There is no coincidence that two of my sons would become extremely respected police officers.
The Boss actually told my son Jon-Erik that if he played baseball anything like your father you better become a cop.
Mr. Steinbrenner was always proud of the fact that he and his long time pal Jim Fuchs, the great track and field Olympics star, created the Silver Shield Foundation
Silver Shield helps the families of police officers killed in the line of duty.
I learned a lot from this great man, one of the most important things was never be afraid to share your tears with others.
When I saw him cry with his team after Thurman Munson died I knew that there was crying in baseball. More importantly I realized how much love there truly exists in the great game of baseball.
The Boss also introduced me to the film "A Bronx Tale" because he thought the two lead characters mirrored our relationship. He even introduced me to Chazz Palminteri, the star of this great film. When we get together we always talk about the Boss and our love of the Yankees. This film actually helped me understand why I will always have such deep respect for George Steinbrenner.
The man that will always be the only Boss.
Ray Negron is a sports executive with over 40 years of experience in baseball. His first job came from a chance encounter with George Steinbrenner as a youth. He has become an American film producer, a best-selling author, and a philanthropist. His memoir is entitled, "Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers." Read Ray Negron's Reports — More Here.
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