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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
In his first quarter century as owner of the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner presided over the good (Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Derek Jeter), the troubled (Steve Howe, Darryl Strawberry), and the bizarre (Billy Martin) with a unique combination of arrogance and compassion. In All Roads Lead to October, longtime baseball scribe Maury Allen gives the inside scoop on the successes and failures of George and his pinstriped army.
George Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees prior to the 1973 season. He moved from Cleveland, where he had made his money as chairman of a shipbuilding company, and was welcomed to New York with a power lunch at the fashionable "21" Club. Sitting around the table were Pete Rozelle, Frank Gifford, and a grinning Howard Cosell.
By the late 1970s, the Boss had put the pieces together for consecutive World Series victories. Steinbrenner, Reggie Jackson, and the hard-drinking, bar-brawling Billy Martin made an enormous triumvirate of egos. Reggie, who celebrated "the magnitude of me," was worshipped by Steinbrenner, envied and despised by Martin.
Steinbrenner and Martin quickly developed one of the oddest codependencies in sports. Joe Torre, who eventually became the most successful manager of the Steinbrenner era, once remarked about getting fired, "Once you are on the managerial wheel, you hang on while it is spinning until you are dropped off at another job." Martin kept getting dropped off at the same job -- Steinbrenner hired and fired the spirited, out-of-control Yankee manager five times.
Like Donald Trump, Steinbrenner followed up success with a horrendous slump -- and ultimate resurrection. Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield starred for 1980s teams that were sometimes bad, sometimes good, but never good enough. The feud between Steinbrenner and Winfield was a constant distraction, so much so that Yankee Stadium erupted in applause when it was announced that Steinbrenner would be suspended for two years following the 1990 season. Never far from his beloved Yankees, George returned with surprising grace. Three World Series victories in the final four years of the millennium, and an unusually secure manager in Torre, placed Steinbrenner back on top.
Though Allen ultimately does not reveal what makes George Steinbrenner tick, he does provide a vivid picture of the "Bronx Zoo" over the past quarter century. It is hard to believe, but with relative dignity the Boss, like a father figure, has not only been an effective caretaker of the Yankee legacy -- he has furthered its glory. (Brenn Jones)