STEINBRENNER! by Dick Schaap
Kirkus Star


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A damning, wryly appreciative bio of the high-handed, devious Yankee owner--twice voted the most unpopular man in sports. Schaap leads off with his troubles getting to see Steinbrenner and (until Steinbrenner gave his okay) getting his friends to say even anything good about him. He eases into Steinbrenner's harassment, in August '81, of shaky star Reggie Jackson and hand-picked manager Gene Michael (maybe to get the whole team steamed up against him) and winds up, in early September, with Steinbrenner triumphant--the Yankees are winning, Michael is gone, and (as an ex-Yankee exec put it) Steinbrenner is ""bigger than Reggie Jackson."" With that build-up, Schaap flashes back to Steinbrenner's beginnings and traces his chaotic career: comfortable suburban Cleveland boyhood; success as a hurler at Culver Military Academy and at Williams (where, as he likes to say, he majored in English); success, too, in the family shipping business; illegal contributions to NixOn's '52 campaign; Broadway angel-ing; and takeover of the Yankees--which he proceeded to make ""the best team that money could buy."" What makes Steinbrenner run, Schaap strongly implies, is a fear of failing to meet the high standards set by a stern father. The victims of his intimidation range from waitresses and telephone operators to the likes of Mike Burke and Billy Martin. He'll alter the record if it doesn't suit him (Schaap has lots of stories to tell) and if he likes anything better than knifing recalcitrants, it's grabbing the headlines. (Witness, for one, that quite possibly apocryphal scuffle with a pair of Dodger fans in an L.A. hotel elevator.) With the facts in order and no bile, a crackling good book.

Pub Date: April 6th, 1982
Publisher: Putnam