RIP George Steinbrenner

Longtime Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died this morning at age 80.

George Steinbrenner took ownership of the Yankees in 1973 for $10mil, and has been the most influential owner in sports ever since with the current value of the Yankees somewhere over $1bil. When he took ownership of the team, the franchise was in a playoff-less drought of eight seasons, the longest such drought since they went to their first World Series in 1921. Just three seasons later the Yankees were back in the World Series, and just four seasons later in 1977 the Yankees won their first World Series since 1962.

“The Boss” as he was known had a strong desire to win, a desire which could also be seen as his biggest weakness. His passion to win led to the revival of the Yankees, who became the most successful sports organization of the past quarter century, on the field and off it. Today, Yankee hats and shirts are won world wide which is due to the growth of the franchise under the direction of George Steinbrenner. However, that passion to win led to many shaky relationships with his employees. He is oft known for firing managers, including Billy Martin five times. He was also banned from baseball in 1990 for hiring Howie Spira to dig up dirt on Dave Winfield, a player Steinbrenner never fully appreciated because he never won a championship with the Yankees.

But The Boss also had a genuine nice side that not many knew about. In 2007 he reached out and helped nine fire victims in the Bronx. He donated lots of money to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and aid to Virginia Tech after the tragic shootings. Perhaps the best story of George’s charity is the story of Ray Negron, an author and special adviser to Mr. Steinbrenner. As a kid, Negron was caught by Steinbrenner drawing Yankees graffiti on Yankee Stadium. Rather than punish him, George made him the team bat boy. Since then, Negron has advanced up the organizational ladder and it is all thanks to Mr. Steinbrenner.

During his tenure as owner, the Yankees won six World Series, the most of any team in that span. He also changed the economic landscape of baseball. He was notorious for signing high profile free agents such as Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, and Dave Winfield. Moreover, in 1997 he was the first owner to sell TV rights to a station (MSGN) and when the contract ended, he helped create the YES Network, a network devoted almost entirely to Yankees baseball.

It’s a shame that baseball never inducted George into the Hall of Fame while he was alive. More than any other owner in the game, he had the biggest impact on the sport. Thanks to his innovation of selling cable rights to stations, the game has grown on TV with all teams now having contracts with local stations to air games. He won six World Series and was the owner of the most recognizable sports team in America. The Yankees were a mess when he took control and he gave the organization a much needed face lift. Rather than sit on profits, he reinvested in the team and created a winner. His business model was great for baseball and a tribute to the fans. If that’s not enough to be inducted, than I don’t know what is.

This week has been rough for the Yankees and baseball. Legend Bob Sheppard died earlier in the week, and now the man responsible for the Yankees return to prominence has passed. It truly has been a sad week. They say death comes in threes, so lets pray that is not the case this time around.

RIP Mr. Steinbrenner, and thank you for all that you have done for the New York Yankees organization and fans.

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3 Comments on “RIP George Steinbrenner”

  1. Chris Ross Says:

    Excellent post, it was a very good read for me! It is a sad time for the baseball world especially with the all star game being played on the same day, but I am also surprised at the amount of praise that the man who was once known as the most hated man in baseball. He definitely did do a lot for the New York Yankees and I’m sure the city is very grateful for it. I also kind of like/hate the fact that I have a team to hate for in the Yankees because they just buy all their players. Also you think you could take a quick look at my blog cuz I really want to know what you think. http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/greatest-owner-ever-hardly/

    • Disco Says:

      Thanks for the comment Chris.

      You got a nice blog there yourself. I read your post on LBJ and I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve been saying the same thing to others.

      I wish I posted more about other sports on here, but I just don’t for some reason. I love futbol and I have zero posts on the World Cup.

  2. yc27 Says:

    Great read man. I literally teared up when I heard the news from my cruise ship room on my box like television set.

    I also dropped in and saw that you wanted to post about other sports. Why not?


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