A brush with George Steinbrenner in 1996


Note: explicit language used below…

George Steinbrenner, the longtime New York Yankees owner, died yesterday at the age of 80.

I had a brush with Steinbrenner back in July, 1996. It was during the Atlanta summer Olympics, and I was in college, working as a bellman at an Atlanta hotel.

Steinbrenner checked in at the front desk, and I took his luggage. We walked to the elevator, and the two of us got in. I punched in the number for his floor, and the doors closed.

I looked over at him. There was complete silence.

To make conversation, I asked him about the recent Centennial Olympic Park bombing, in which two people were killed and 111 were injured.

“What do you think about it all, Mr. Steinbrenner?” I said.

He turned and looked at me.

“I hope they catch that son of a bitch and hang him by his balls.”

And that was that.

To be fair, though he was known for his ruthless managerial ways, I will say this: He was a generous tipper. And, later in the visit, after he’d stayed for a few days and I’d helped arranged to have a few of his signature blazers dry cleaned, he gave me a special reward: a box of a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts.

Published by Newley

Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I'm reading, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. For updates, get my weekly email newsletter.

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