As a youngster, I looked forward to Yankee Stadium visits, and while working in Manhattan years later, I used to head to the Bronx to see an occasional game.
So shortly after I moved to Pennsylvania, it was a thrill to read about Jim Lane's trips to this venerable landmark in the Altoona Mirror.
The recent news of Yankee owner George Steinbrenner's passing brought back many of those memories, but I have mixed feelings about the Steinbrenner legacy.
The "Boss," as he was affectionately known, is beloved by Yankee fans for committing vast resources to free-agent players, leading to a resurgence of a team that was weakened by bad management and the retirement of aging legends.
But Steinbrenner's impact went well beyond the Yankees. His aggressive free-agent bidding changed baseball and accelerated the entire sports landscape into the star system that prevails today. The recent coverage of LeBron James may not have been as profound without Steinbrenner's influence.
When free-agent bidding began in the 1970s, Oakland A's Owner Charlie Finley argued that making all players free agents simultaneously would best hold player salaries in check, a strategy that Marvin Miller, baseball's labor chief, was thankful never occurred.
Instead, the current model, one that played into the hands of big stars and big-market teams took hold. Steinbrenner thrived in this system, while many small-market teams struggled and stumbled. Fellow team owners pushed taxpayers to build new ballparks in a futile attempt to keep pace with the Boss's aggressive spending.
A luxury tax was eventually put in place to give small market teams a better chance to succeed.
In response, Steinbrenner pushed for a new stadium of his own, with New York City providing free land and millions in infrastructure subsidies.
He was able to convince fans that Yankee Stadium was falling apart, but he was charged with its maintenance, a conflict of interest that allowed him to manipulate city leaders into the creation of a new Taj Mahal in the Bronx.
As a result, the team that he bought for less than $10 million is now valued at $1.6 billion.
Steinbrenner was a genuine personality in a city filled with big-ego luminaries.
His commitment to charitable causes and his work to reinvigorate the U.S. Olympic team made him important internationally, but many remember the more humbling parody of him on Seinfeld, with George Costanza acting as his errand boy.
Decades ago the National League dominated All-Star Game competition.
More recently, it took them 14 years to eke out a single victory. That power shift is part of Steinbrenner's legacy, too.
Some Pirates fans may curse the Boss for changing the face of baseball, but without him, baseball might have lost even more ground to pro football than it already has.
Despite his many flaws, Steinbrenner's impact was profound.
Trumpbour, a communications professor at Penn State Altoona, is a frequent contributor to Voice of the Fan.