"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Wooly Bully

In going through some of correspondence from my Old Man, I found this, the start of a letter he wrote to me when I was 19 and spending the summer visiting my mother’s relatives in Belgium:

It is with more than a little glee that I send you these clippings from the several New York papers. It is not often that the good guys get theirs and the bad guys get what’s coming to them but Mr. Vincent would seem to have made the latter portion of that sentence come to pass. I don’t know whether it is the solution that I would have wished for but it ain’ta bad’un. Being required to divest himself of all control of the Yankees, and doing so as publicly as it must be done, must tick in Steinbrenner’s throat and that makes me feel very good indeed. Whether Vincent is aware of it or not, he has done the citizenry a great service which they were powerless to do for themselves.

July 31, 1990

This from the same man who would only consider believing in Hell if only Walter O Malley could burn in it for eternity. Pop hated bullies, which is ironic because he was one himself.

Still, for all that Steinbrenner has contributed to the success of the team–and he has certainly done that–when Fay Vincent punished him in 1990 it was the first glimmer of hope that the Yankees could rebound. At the time, I believed that the Yankees would never be great again until he was gone. That wasn’t the case, of course, though the Dynasty of the ’90s was formed during his second hiatus from the game. It’s hard to imagine a late-bloomer like Bernie Williams being afforded the opportunity to grow during the ’80s.

[Illustration by Lyndon Hayes]

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1 ms october   ~  Feb 2, 2010 10:57 am

thanks for sharing that alex.

this is a great line: "Whether Vincent is aware of it or not, he has done the citizenry a great service which they were powerless to do for themselves."

2 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 2, 2010 11:17 am

Ah, the old man sure could turn a phrase, especially when he felt righteous. I wish I'd saved any number of his letters to the editor or to the city of New York regarding his thoughts on alternate side of the street parking.


3 ms october   ~  Feb 2, 2010 11:27 am

[2] i can definitely see it - i absolutely love that line. and haha - i bet the alternate side opinions were classic. :}

4 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 2, 2010 11:46 am

I am admittedly one of Steinbrenner’s biggest fans, but I agree that his suspension was not only best for the team, but for George himself. It’s kind of ironic that the Yankees didn’t need to be saved from Steinbrenner, but Steinbrenner needed to be saved from himself. Once that was done, it was a match made in heaven for Yankee fans.

5 RagingTartabull   ~  Feb 2, 2010 11:54 am

on the bright side it led to his comedy career


6 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 2, 2010 12:00 pm

William, I think that is a great point. It's not like he wanted to sabotage the team, but his judgement became impaired. The whole Howie Spira thing was so base, so distasteful. But it was a good wake-up call for both George and the organization. And he went out, so to speak, on a positive note. He got his redemption.

7 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 2, 2010 12:12 pm

[6] Meanwhile, Spira is the one left holding the bag from that stinky situation...

8 RagingTartabull   ~  Feb 2, 2010 12:14 pm

George's heart was always in the right place as far as the moves he made/demanded but the Spira thing was where it crossed the line into being nothing more than petty and vindictive.

He needed, for lack of a better word when dealing with someone acting like a six year old, a timeout. It ended up being the best thing for all involved, except Howie who the Daily News did a predictably depressing piece on a few months ago.

9 rbj   ~  Feb 2, 2010 12:34 pm

[0] A-yup.

[7] That was a real funny skit. One of my all time favorites.

10 lroibal   ~  Feb 2, 2010 2:40 pm

I could see your dad had his priorities in order. Any niceties, or right to Steinbrenner?


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--Earl Weaver