McKeon: Steinbrenner a winner

On the night the Marlins celebrated one of their greatest victories, George Steinbrenner was gracious in defeat.

When it was all over on that October night at Yankee Stadium in 2003, outside the press room, away from the view of the media, Steinbrenner congratulated Jack McKeon following Game 6 of the World Series.

“He was always good. When we won the World Series in New York, he came down and congratulated me,” McKeon said on Tuesday. “He said we deserved it, and he was happy for me.”

It was just another example of Steinbrenner giving praise to those deserving.

The passing of Steinbrenner on Tuesday brought back memories of the legendary Yankees owner.

McKeon, now a Marlins special advisor, had a long history dealing with Steinbrenner. When McKeon was the general manager of the Padres in the 1980s, he swung several trades with Steinbrenner’s Yankees.

One of them was trading Dennis Rasmussen to the Yankees for third baseman Craig Nettles, a move that helped the Padres reach the World Series in 1984.

In another deal, McKeon dealt John Montefusco to New York as part of a trade that brought second baseman Edwin Rodriguez to the Padres.

Rodriguez had a brief playing career with the Yankees and Padres. Now, at age 49, he is the Marlins manager, and first Puerto Rican-born manager in MLB history.

For more than three decades, McKeon has had great respect for Steinbrenner.

“I got a number of telegrams on my office wall where he congratulated me,” McKeon said. “I still take a lot of pride in the 1984 World Series, he sent me a telegram saying, ‘Congratulations, you took me to the cleaners many times, in trades.’ “

Steinbrenner also sent his wishes when McKeon was named NL Manager of the Year with the Reds in 1999.

McKeon recalled a time when he was in the Reds system, working for then Cincinnati GM Jim Bowden. McKeon was in the office of former Yankees GM Gene Michael discussing a possible trade.

“When I was working with the Reds, and I was Bowden’s assistant, we were trying to make a deal, and I was in Gene Michael’s office,” McKeon said. “I was talking to Gene and George walked into the room and he said to Michael, ‘Hey, watch this guy, he will try to pick your pocket.’

“George was a warrior and he was a winner. Regardless of what it cost or what, he was going to win.”

– Joe Frisaro

 

 

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