Today is not only the birthday of our country, it was also the birthday of George M. Steinbrenner III, "The Boss." Steinbrenner passed away two years ago at the age of 80 and left a legacy that will span the test of time.
July 4th with all the fireworks and pomp and circumstance was the perfect day for Steinbrenner to be born. He was known for the constant fireworks and celebrations regarding his club. When George bought the Yankees in 1973 he began a mission to restore the prestige and luster to a franchise that had hit rock bottom. Mission accomplished with the New York Yankees being the most recognizable sports logo in America and throughout the world.
Steinbrenner's business model was to put the profits back into the organization and it has worked to almost perfection. Starting back in the 70's with free agents Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson, George also put money into homegrown talent the likes of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
The man born on the Fourth of July, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and the team with a similar name is a marriage made in heaven. If you believe in fate this has been one for the ages.
The Boss' love of the military, which included tradition, pride, hard work and discipline was the mantra and persona George wanted from his club. Rules like no beards or long hair and suits worn to the Stadium and on road trips. Some called nonsense, Steinbrenner called it necessary. To this day that business approach has trickled down through all the minor league affiliates and entire organization. George started the God Bless America at the seventh inning stretch which has caught on throughout baseball. Whether New York or Tampa, Scranton or Trenton there is only one way, the Yankee way. They are taught young all about the history of the franchise and how important it has become.
From the House that Ruth Built to the House that George Built they will always be baseball's Cathedrals of America's pastime.
Some notable events have happened in Yankee history on July 4th starting with the infamous speech of Lou Gehrig "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth" in 1939. It was deemed "Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day" and the Yankees retired Gehrig's No. 4 uniform, the first time it was ever done in Major League Baseball.
In 1983, again on Independence Day, Dave Righetti threw a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. This was the first no-hitter since Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
On July 4th in 1978, 14 games out of first, the Yankees had one of the greatest comebacks in sports history winning a one game play off in Boston at the end of the season to propel them to an eventual World Series win.
So as we reflect on our country's 236th birthday, we remember the freedom and sacrifice made by so many for our unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Happy Birthday America!
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