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Neuharth: House The Boss built will outdo the Babe’s

YANKEE STADIUM – The most loved and most hated team in Major League Baseball opened its new $1.5 billion stadium Thursday with “The Boss” who built it shining in the spotlight of his huge royal suite high above home plate.

With George Steinbrenner were wife Joan; sons Hal and Hank, who now officially run the place; daughters Jennifer and Jessica; and dozens of admirers and friends.

My first games in the old Yankee Stadium were during the 1955 World Series, which the Yankees lost to the Brooklyn Dodgers, four games to three.

Back then, I came from South Dakota and bought from scalpers upper left-field bleacher seats for $15 each. The face value was $2.10. Now those officially sell for $14, but scalpers got $100 or more per ticket.

For nearly 27 years, since we started USA TODAY, I’ve been a regular guest in Steinbrenner’s suite. When you’re around him now, you realize he’s still The Boss at age 78, despite turning over official management to his two sons.

The old stadium was labeled “The House that (Babe) Ruth built,” by New York sportswriter Fred Lieb. This one ultimately will become known as “The House The Boss built.”

Contrasts between the Babe and The Boss:

• Ruth joined the Yankees in 1920 and left in 1935. In his 15 seasons, the Yanks played in six World Series.

• Steinbrenner became principal owner of the Yankees in 1973. Since then, they’ve played in 10 World Series, although they’ve had a drought since 2003.

Steinbrenner and his family still are willing to spend whatever it takes to give New York a winner, which is why the Yankees in this new stadium will likely outshine those in the old.

Even if you are a Yankee-hater, you grudgingly should credit The Boss for his will to win and for the house he built.

Al Neuharth is founder of USA TODAY.



“He’s the reason why we are here today. He’s the greatest owner in the history of sports. The reason we are playing in a great facility is because of all the things he’s contributed to our organization.”

- Derek Jeter, Yankees shortstop

“My dad, also George, played hooky and went to the first game at Yankee Stadium. I thought about him on this opening day. That’s how baseball works – the elders teach the youngsters to love the sport.”

- George Vecsey, sports columnist, The New York Times, born a Brooklyn Dodgers fan

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