With today’s passing of longtime New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner at age 80, I decided to find out more about this controversial and respected baseball owner.
Born George Michael Steinbrenner III on July 4, 1930 in Rocky River Ohio, Steinbrenner was an accomplished athlete in track and football while studying at Williams College where he graduated in 1952. After graduation, he entered the United States Air Force where he earned the rank of Second Lieutenant. Following a honorable discharge in 1954, he began post-graduate studies at Ohio State University and received his Masters Degree in Physical Education in 1955.
In 1960, Steinbrenner entered the sports franchising business with the Cleveland Pipers basketball team. After a number of financial challenges and the eventual failure of the American Basketball League in 1962, Steinbrenner entered the business of theatre and co-produced a Broadway play entitled The Ninety Day Mistress in 1967.
On January 3, 1973, Steinbrenner and a group of investors purchased the New York Yankees baseball franchise from CBS for $8.8 million and the rest as they say is history. Steinbrenner owned the Yankees from 1973 until July 30, 1990 when baseball commissioner Fay Vincent banned him from baseball for life after a controversy involving gambling. Steinbrenner was re-instated in 1993 and remained the owner until his death. Under his generous reign, Steinbrenner built the Yankees to be one of the most successful sports franchises in history. The Yankees went on to earn 7 World Series titles and 11 American League titles. Steinbrenner spent unprecedented amounts of money (taking full advantage of baseball’s lack of salary cap restrictions) to purchase the best talent the sport could offer and was often the enemy and envy of many owners. His player acquisitions set records for highest paid contracts. Today, the payroll of the Yankees franchise is by far the largest of any other Major League Team by a huge margin. No one comes close. Today’s estimated market value of the Yankees franchise is approximately $1.6 billion. Steinbrenner’s mantra was always “win at all costs”
George Steinbrenner was an outspoken man about many things and leaves a trail of famous quotes. The quote that caught me off guard was this one: “They may call me the Boss, but in the end, to succeed as owner of the Yankees, you have to be a servant — a servant to the history and legacy of the Yankees.”