In my opinion, George was the most important Yankee since Mickey Mantle until Mariano Rivera assumed the closer's role for the Yanks. Nothing against the other great Yankees in between Mickey and Mariano (i.e. Munson, Mattingly and Jeter), but none were singular weapons that clearly would win titles no matter what team they were on. It is not until Mariano that you saw another Yankee that you could say this guy could propel even an average team into a champion. Even Pettitte who has been a post season force for The Yanks could not do that when he went to Houston WITH Roger Clemens. Reggie Jackson was that kind of weapon (he won with Oakland and the Yankees), but he was a free agent - HIRED - by George Steinbrenner. That is what made George so special. He was not afraid to be great no matter who it upset. He was a maverick. Politicians overuse that phrase, but he was. He went after difference makers like Reggie, Gossage, O'Neil and Martinez. They were great Yankees ultimately because George brought them here. Yes they performed, but again, George made it happen in pinstripes. A better owner, we Yankee fans could not have had in the era of free agency.
When George bought the Yankees the club was worth almost nothing and was in complete and utter decline. The Yankees today are among the most valued sports teams in the world and the Yankee brand one of the most respected and revered in the World.
George was more than a smart business man he was a physical force of nature. Will and determination personified. Hurricanes and Volcanoes leave allot of destruction in their path but they also change the landscape forever. George was the human equivalent of a category 5 Hurricane or a Mount Saint Helens Volcano. The landscape has been changed forever by his presence.