Despite learning he had erred on George Steinbrenner’s religion, former New York Yankee Ron Blomberg considered the late Yankees owner “a wonderful person who would give you the shirt off his back.”
Steinbrenner died July 13 at the age of 80.
Blomberg, Major League baseball’s first designated hitter, was a member of the Yankees from 1969-76; Steinbrenner took control of the team in 1973.
“When George bought the team, I though he was Jewish,” Blomberg said in a telephone interview from Milford, Pa., where he leads the baseball program NJ Y’s Total Specialty Camp. “I was having a good year, and I thought [contract negotiations] were going to be easy, that the front office would be pulling for me. So I found out later that he wasn’t Jewish and I was so shocked. Then I said, ‘This is going to be tough.’”
Blomberg said, “George was wonderful to me, a mentor” but also acknowledged Steinbrenner was a tough boss who demanded the best of all his employees, from players to office workers. “He fired everybody four, five, six times. But the next day, he’d hire them back,” said Blomberg.
“If you gave him 120 percent, he was the greatest human being in the world. He was tough, but he was such a giving human, he gave so much to charity. He didn’t want people to know what he’d done. He’s done so much for the Yankees [and] for New Yorkers that wanted a winner.”