George Steinbrenner passed away a few days ago. He certainly was an iconic figure in the world of sports and entertainment. Over the years, he took his team, the Yankees, and baseball to levels of popularity and controversy it hadn’t seen before. Many people had very strong feelings about George, you either loved him or you despised him. I had a different feeling about him. Unbeknownst to Mr. Steinbrenner, he had a really big impact on me at a very impressionable time in my life. Although it was just a footnote in his obituary, at the time his conviction for felony obstruction of justice was a pretty big deal. He was involved in the Watergate scandal. And Watergate was all over the news just as I was getting old enough to pay attention to politics and what was happening outside my little pre-teen world, you know-other than David Cassidy and Donny Osmond. George Steinbrenner came to my high school a few years after all that had happened and spoke to us. Funny he should come to my little Indiana town to speak but many people don’t know he went to Culver Military Academy, which wasn’t far, and his sons were attending the school at the time.
Anywho, he came and talked to us during one of our weekly convocations. I didn’t realize it at the time but we had some pretty noteworthy speakers come to the school including Corrie Ten Boom who was imprisoned in a German concentration camp for hiding Jews. And George Steinbrenner. I usually zoned out during these confabs, I was a teenager after all. But for some reason this time I paid attention. He was talking about what had happened during Watergate and how because of his poor decision making, he was now a convicted felon. He said with a lot of emotion in his voice, that he could never vote again in an election for the rest of his life. And he said it a second time. The right our forefathers had died for was now something he’d been denied.
For some reason, this really resonated with me. I was going through my first presidential election and although I was still too young to vote, that milestone wasn’t far away. And the result of it is I’ve never missed voting in a general election. And I’ve only missed 1 primary. I wasn’t going to take my right to vote for granted. I take election days pretty seriously. Mr. Steinbrenner probably never knew he’d had that kind of impact on me but he did.
Oh, I’ve also never been convicted of a felony. Convicted? No. (Stripes joke) But my parents may have had a little to do with that.