The golden goose went on display before the cabbies and the truck drivers at the Yankees' home opener on April 8. About an hour before the first pitch, the old ballyard teemed with a chaotic yet thrilling din. Under the stands a golf cart, with Steinbrenner riding shotgun, whirred through the main service tunnel, a narrow artery framed by spaghetti strands of pipes and wires. Young military men and women in their dress uniforms, awaiting an on-field ceremony, pressed against both side walls to allow the cart through. The old baseball general looked into their bright eyes and started to choke up.
He was still thinking about the soldiers, their clean, youthful faces that could soon be shipped off into the dirty hell that is war, when he stepped onto a makeshift platform in leftfield for a live television interview and the fans in the adjacent bleachers began to chant, "Thank you, George!"
Now, that was too much. It was the other George, the other general, his man Patton, who once said, "If a man does his best, what else is there?" Steinbrenner had done his best, at least in that crazy, audacious way he knew how, and the people were thanking him for it. They cared. He lost it—just starting bawling from behind dark glasses on live television. And just maybe, at that moment, the old, gray patriarch was never so alive.