"I wish I played for him because he paid," said Skowron during a Tuesday evening phone interview, hours after Steinbrenner's passing. "You produce, you got paid.
"That's the name of the game. Without ballplayers, you don't win. He wanted to win and spent money to win. He didn't take no garbage from anyone.
"He fired Billy [Martin] and hired Billy and fired Billy, but it was all about how he wanted to win," Skowron said. "He was a wonderful man, and he always was very nice to me. He was a heckuva guy to us guys [old-time Yankees]."
Skowron had 133 World Series at-bats and played in seven Fall Classics for the Yankees from 1955-58 and 1960-62. He also won a title with the Dodgers in '63, beating his former club.
White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf gave Skowron a ring after the team's 2005 championship run, as Skowron has been working within Chicago's organization for the past decade as a popular community relations representative. Skowron presented that ring to his daughter, who Skowron said is a big White Sox fan.
But he still has nine World Series rings in his possession. Eight were from his playing days and one was given to him by Steinbrenner. Skowron told the story Tuesday of how he was at a racetrack a few years back and met the son of a business partner of Steinbrenner's from the thoroughbred racing industry, who was wearing a Yankees' World Series ring. Steinbrenner held partial ownership in Balmoral Park and Maywood Park in suburbs of Chicago.
When Skowron saw Steinbrenner later that year at an old-timers game, he joked about how he was "passing those rings out like candy" and why didn't Steinbrenner give one to Skowron and his good friend, Hank Bauer, who played with Skowron on the Yankees.
Steinbrenner asked which ring Skowron had an eye on, and Skowron said the '77 World Series ring. Steinbrenner told him it couldn't be obtained right away, but he would have it for him by the next Christmas.
"Sure enough, one week before Christmas, I got the 1977 ring," Skowron said.
Currently working for Reinsdorf, Skowron sees a similarity between the two owners in that they both have been very committed to their respective franchises' success. Skowron also appreciates both owners' connections to their players.
Reinsdorf often can be found before a home game talking to his players around the batting cage or even speaking with familiar faces from other teams. Skowron also recounted a tale of how Steinbrenner went out of his way to meet Bauer at an old-timers game, because he had never met him before.
"Just a heck of an owner and it was a pleasure to know him," Skowron said.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.