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George Steinbrenner

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George Steinbrenner

George Steinbrenner
Born George Michael Steinbrenner III
(1930-07-04)July 4, 1930
Bay Village, Ohio, U.S.
Died July 13, 2010(2010-07-13) (aged 80)
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Alma mater Williams College (B.A.),
Ohio State University (M.A.)
Occupation Owner of New York Yankees (MLB), businessman, investor, entrepreneur
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Joan Zieg (m.1956–2010; his death)
Children Hank Steinbrenner
Hal Steinbrenner
Jessica Steinbrenner
Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindal
Parent(s) Henry G. Steinbrenner II
Rita Haley

George Michael Steinbrenner III (July 4, 1930 – July 13, 2010) was an American businessman who was the principal owner and managing partner of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees. During Steinbrenner's 37-year ownership from 1973 to his death in July 2010, the longest in club history, the Yankees earned seven World Series titles and 11 pennants. His outspokenness and role in driving up player salaries made him one of the sport's most controversial figures. Steinbrenner was also involved in the Great Lakes and Gulf Coast shipping industry.

Known as a hands-on baseball executive, Steinbrenner earned the nickname "The Boss". He had a tendency to meddle in daily on-field decisions, and to hire and fire (and sometimes re-hire) managers. Former Yankees manager [1] He died after suffering a heart attack in his Tampa home on the morning of July 13, 2010, the day of the 81st All-Star Game.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Pre-Yankees career 2
  • New York Yankees career 3
    • Facial hair policy 3.1
    • Campaign contributions to Nixon and pardon 3.2
    • Dave Winfield controversy 3.3
    • Reinstatement and championship years 3.4
  • Retirement 4
  • Death 5
  • Off the field 6
    • Charitable work 6.1
  • In the media 7
    • Seinfeld caricature 7.1
  • Honors 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Early life and education

Steinbrenner was born in superheroes foil his plan by resurrecting Billy Martin.

After a public chastising of Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter for "partying too much", the two appeared in a Visa commercial club-hopping. A 2004 Visa commercial depicted Steinbrenner in the trainer's room at Yankee Stadium, suffering from an arm injury, unable to sign any checks, including that of his then-current manager Joe Torre, who spends most of the commercial treating Steinbrenner as if he were an important player.


Steinbrenner also was a fan of professional wrestling. He wrote the foreword of the 2005 Dusty Rhodes autobiography and was a regular at old Tampa Armory cards in the 1970s and 1980s. In March 1989, he appeared in the front row of the WWF's Saturday Night's Main Event broadcast, even interacting with manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan at one point (Heenan remarked about the guy he managed in the ring at the time to Steinbrenner "I've got a ring full of Winfield"). At WWF WrestleMania 7, Steinbrenner, WWF owner Vince McMahon, and NFL announcer Paul Maguire filmed a skit with the trio debating instant replay. He was also present in the front row of an edition of WCW Monday Nitro in 1996, and in the front row of another edition as well early 1998, when the event took place in Tampa.

At the funeral of his long-time friend Otto Graham in December 2003, Steinbrenner fainted, leading to extensive media speculation that he was in ill health.

New York Daily News cartoonist Bill Gallo often cited Steinbrenner's German heritage by drawing him in a Prussian military uniform, complete with spiked helmet, gold epaulettes and medals, calling him "General von Steingrabber".

In ESPN's miniseries The Bronx is Burning, he is portrayed by Oliver Platt.

Seinfeld caricature

George Steinbrenner appeared as a character in the situation comedy Larry David provided voice-over performances whenever the character spoke. Steinbrenner's full face was never shown, and the character was always viewed from the back in scenes set in his office at Yankee Stadium. The character appeared in the following episodes: "The Opposite", "The Secretary", "The Race", "The Jimmy", "The Wink", "The Hot Tub", "The Caddy", "The Calzone", "The Bottle Deposit", "The Nap", "The Millennium", "The Muffin Tops", and "The Finale".

The fictional Steinbrenner talked nonstop, regardless of whether anyone was listening, and sometimes referred to himself as "Big Stein". The team owner was known for eccentric decisions, such as cotton jerseys, threatening to move the team to New Jersey "just to upset people", scalping his owner's box tickets, wearing eggplant calzone. In "The Wink", the Steinbrenner character mentions all of the people he fired, saying Billy Martin four times, and mentions then-current manager Buck Showalter, but then quickly swears Costanza to silence. Though intended as a joke, the comment proved prophetic: A few weeks after the episode aired, Steinbrenner replaced Showalter as manager with Joe Torre.

Steinbrenner's involvement with Seinfeld began when he refused a request to make a

Preceded by
Owner of the New York Yankees
Succeeded by
Hal Steinbrenner
Hank Steinbrenner
  • George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built The Yankee Empire
  • George Steinbrenner at the Internet Movie Database
  • The List: Steinbrenner's Worst ESPN
  • George M. Steinbrenner III: #380 Richest American
  • FBI file on George Steinbrenner
  • Outstanding Citizen of the Year; Past Winners, Tampa Metro Civitan Club.
  • George Steinbrenner at Find A Grave
  • Steinbrenner's basketball bio
  • George Steinbrenner Dies
  • George Steinbrenner at the Internet Broadway Database

External links

  1. ^ Puma, Mike. The Boss' made Yankees a dictatorship"'". ESPN Classic. 
  2. ^ George Steinbrenner Biography, Business Leader 1930-2010
  3. ^ Puma, Mike "The Boss" made Yankees a dictatorship ESPN Classic
  4. ^ Sports Illustrated: "Mister Softie?" May 10, 2004
  5. ^ 'George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built the Yankee Empire'' by Peter Golenbock"'" (PDF). p. 12. Retrieved May 2, 2012. 
  6. ^ Tampa Bay Online: "Yankees owner George Steinbrenner dies at age 80 in Tampa" July 13, 2010
  7. ^ a b c Golenbock, Peter. 'George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built the Yankee Empire''"'" (PDF). p. 6ff. Retrieved August 24, 2010. George and his family moved to Bay Village, Ohio, and lived there for some time, just several houses away from where the infamous Sam Sheppard lived. 
  8. ^ "MIT gets $1M from Steinbrenner Foundation", New England Sun Journal, Wednesday, October 15, 2008
  9. ^ "Steinbrenner Foundation pledges $1 million gift to MIT athletics", New York Yankees press release, October 14, 2008
  10. ^ a b c d  
  11. ^ 'George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built the Yankee Empire'' by Peter Golenbock"'" (PDF). Retrieved August 24, 2010. 
  12. ^ "George Steinbrenner Biography". 
  13. ^ a b "FACTBOX — Five facts about Yankees owner Steinbrenner". Reuters. July 13, 2010. Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  14. ^ The Free Lance-Star - Google News Archive Search
  15. ^ "Internet Broadway Database". 
  16. ^ Torry, Jack (1996). Endless Summers: The Fall and Rise of the Cleveland Indians. South Bend, IN: Diamond Communications, Inc. 
  17. ^ New York Yankees 1973 Yearbook.
  18. ^ Madden, Bill (2010). Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball. HarperCollins. 
  19. ^ a b Toobin, Jeffrey (May 30, 2011). "Madoff’s Curveball". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 23, 2011. 
  20. ^ a b  
  21. ^ Gross, Jane (October 29, 1981). "Steinbrenner Issues an Apology to Fans". New York Times. p. B13. 
  22. ^  
  23. ^ Bashe, Philip (1994). Dog Days: The New York Yankees' Fall from Grace and Return to Glory, 1964–1976. New York: Random House, Inc. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Guilty Pleas in Campaign Gift Case" (PDF). San Francisco Chronicle. August 24, 1974. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  29. ^ Chass, Murray (July 19, 2008). "Sorry, Harvey". Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  31. ^ Anderson, Dave (March 7, 1988). "Sports Of The Times; Dave Winfield'S Rebuttal".  
  32. ^ Gallagher M, LeConte (2003). The Yankee Encyclopedia.  
  33. ^ Darcy, Kieran (June 6, 2008). "Darcy: The man who would be king - ESPN Page 2".  
  34. ^ "Winfield to Enter Hall as Padre". Associated Press. April 13, 2001. Retrieved July 14, 2010. 
  35. ^ 2002-03 Round 4/Game 7/CBC: Stanley Cup Presentation on
  36. ^ "Steinbrenner relinquishes control of Yankees - Baseball". October 14, 2007. 
  37. ^ "Steinbrenner's health worsening". October 30, 2009. Retrieved August 24, 2010. 
  38. ^ Bloom, Barry M. (July 16, 2008). Boss' makes visit to Yankee Stadium"'". 
  39. ^ Borzi, Pat (March 24, 2009). "For the Boss, Times Have Changed". The New York Times. 
  40. ^ Feinsand, Mark (April 13, 2010). "Joe Girardi, Derek Jeter give New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner his 2009 World Series ring". Daily News. 
  41. ^ "George Steinbrenner III". Forbes. September 30, 2009. Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  42. ^ "THE YANKEES: STEINBRENNER'S MONEY MACHINE". September 28, 1998. Retrieved August 24, 2010. 
  43. ^ Madden, Bill (July 13, 2010). "George Steinbrenner, owner of New York Yankees, has died in Tampa at age of 80". 
  44. ^ Goldstein, Richard (July 12, 2010). "Bob Sheppard, Voice of the Yankees, Dies at 99". The New York Times. 
  45. ^ Marchand, Andrew (July 13, 2010). "Yankees to Wear Two Memorial Patches". Retrieved July 15, 2010. 
  46. ^ Jennings, Chad (August 24, 2010). "Steinbrenner monument being dedicated next month". The Lohud Yankees Blog (The Journal News). Retrieved August 24, 2010. 
  47. ^ Johnette Howard (July 4, 2010). "The man, the myth, and always The Boss".  
  48. ^ Firstman, Richard C. (October 18, 1986). "And What If You're a Yankees Fan?". Newsday. p. 83. What about the dilemma of the Yankee fans? This may be a series to eat their hearts out. As a Mets-oriented T-shirt says, 'Steinbrenner's Nightmare.' 
  49. ^  
  50. ^ Madden, Bill (April 13, 2010). "As New York Yankees trainer Gene Monahan battles cancer, Bombers bestow him with World Series ring". New York Daily News. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  51. ^ "The Lives They Lived". The New York Times. December 21, 2010. 
  52. ^
  53. ^ O'Connor, Ian (December 31, 2010). "Boss' kindness kept Olympian afloat". Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  54. ^ Burrage, Gregg. "Steinbrenner's philanthropy, love for Tampa well known". Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  55. ^ Harper, John (July 14, 2010). "Mel Stottlemyre had his battles with George Steinbrenner, but appreciated Boss' generosity". New York Daily News ( Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  56. ^ "Fans pay their last respects to an icon". July 19, 2010. Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  57. ^ "Truth Mirrors 'Simpsons' Fiction". Chicago Tribune. February 23, 1992. p. 3. Retrieved July 7, 2008. 
  58. ^ Fetter, Henry D. (2003). Taking on the Yankees: winning and losing in the business of baseball, 1903-2003. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 359.  
  59. ^ Dowd, Maureen. "The Sultan of Swagger" The New York Times, July 14, 2010.
  60. ^ "George Steinbrenner 'memorable' 'Seinfeld' character, Jerry Seinfeld says". July 13, 2010. Retrieved August 24, 2010. 
  61. ^ Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award. Tampa Metro Civitan Club.
  62. ^ "About Steinbrenner Band Hall". February 4, 2010. Retrieved August 24, 2010. 
  63. ^ "Steinbrenner High School getting ready to open". August 25, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  64. ^ Stein, Letitia (December 12, 2007). "School honors Yankees owner". St. Petersburg Times. 
  65. ^ "Boshamer courtyard to be named For Steinbrenner Family". UNC General Alumni Association. April 25, 2006. Retrieved November 21, 2008. 
  66. ^ "Yankees honor Steinbrenner with statue". January 7, 2011. Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  67. ^ "Steinbrenner appears on Hall of Fame ballot". ( November 8, 2010. Retrieved January 7, 2011. 


See also

Steinbrenner appeared on the 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.[67]

Legends Field, the Yankees' Spring Training facility in Tampa, was renamed Bryson Field at Boshamer Stadium at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has also been named for Steinbrenner and his family.[65] A life-size bronze statue of Steinbrenner was placed in front of the stadium in January 2011.[66]

[64] Steinbrenner was a generous contributor to the Tampa Bay area.[63] A high school in

The The Pride of the Sunshine's rehearsal hall and houses offices, instrument storage, the band library and an instrument issue room.[62]

In 2000, Steinbrenner was honored as Grand Marshal at the German-American Steuben Parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City. At this largest German-American event in the country, he was greeted by tens of thousands who celebrated him as an outstanding American of German heritage.

In 1992, Steinbrenner was presented with Tampa's most prestigious civic service award, the Tampa Metro Civitan Club's Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award.[61]

Steinbrenner was awarded The Flying Wedge Award, one of the NCAA’s highest honors.



Season 7 DVD Disc 4. Seinfeld", but they were edited out when the time of the original episode ran longer than the allowed time. They are on the The Invitations season 7 finale, "Seinfeld and later maintained that he was a fan of the show and that "Costanza is always welcome back." He filmed three scenes for the [59] In the 1994 computer game

He appeared as himself in the Albert Brooks comedy The Scout. In 1991, he played himself in an episode on YouTube of Good Sports, with Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal.

In The Simpsons episode "Homer at the Bat", Mr. Burns fires Don Mattingly for refusing to shave sideburns only Burns could see. It is often assumed that this was a parody of an argument Steinbrenner and Mattingly had in real life with regards to Mattingly's hair length. However, the episode was actually recorded a year before the suspension occurred, and was nothing more than a coincidence.[57] As Mattingly walks off the baseball field, he states, "I still like him [Burns] better than Steinbrenner."

He hosted Saturday Night Live on October 20, 1990 at the same time his former outfielder and Yankee manager, Lou Piniella, led the Cincinnati Reds to a World Championship. In the opening sketch, he dreamt of a Yankees team managed, coached, and entirely played by himself. In other sketches, he chews out the SNL "writing staff" (notably including Al Franken) for featuring him in a mock Slim Fast commercial with other ruthless leaders such as Saddam Hussein and Idi Amin and plays a folksy convenience store manager whose business ethic is virtually the complete opposite of that of the real Steinbrenner.

Despite Steinbrenner's controversial status he poked fun at himself in the media. His frequent firings and rehirings of manager Billy Martin were lampooned in a '70s Miller Lite beer commercial in which Steinbrenner tells Martin "You're fired!" to which Martin replies "Oh, no, not again!" After one of Martin's real-life rehirings, the commercial was resurrected, only with Steinbrenner's line redubbed to say "You're hired!" The two commercials would sometimes alternate depending on Martin's status with the team.

In the media

During the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, Steinbrenner comforted United States Olympic Swimming medalist Ron Karnaugh through his father's death and maintained a relationship with him until his death.[53] At his residence in Tampa, Steinbrenner supported numerous individuals and charities including the Boys and Girls Club as well as the Salvation Army.[54] Mel Stottlemyre recalled that during his myeloma cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital he had mentioned in passing to Steinbrenner how he regretted not being able to watch Yankee games from his room. Stottlemyre heard that Steinbrenner went all the way to Mayor Rudy Giuliani to ensure he was able to watch the broadcasts from his room.[55] Steinbrenner had also donated $1 million to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital where a wing was named in his honor.[56]

Steinbrenner gave to many charitable causes. In 1982, George, "while attending the funeral of a police officer killed in the line of duty, was deeply moved by the ceremony in which the American flag was folded military-style and presented to the officer's surviving spouse and young children". "He was concerned about their education and who would help with the cost, so he established the Silver Shield Foundation," said Foundation's Co-Founder James E. Fuchs, a close friend of Mr. Steinbrenner's.[52] He often donated to the families of fallen police officers in the Tampa Police Department and the New York City Police Department in addition to college scholarships for many poor children.[13]

Charitable work

George Steinbrenner was involved with thoroughbred horse racing from the early 1970s. He owned Kinsman Stud Farm in Ocala, Florida and raced under the name Kinsman Stable.

"When the team was on the road, you’d come back to your hotel late at night, and if your phone light was on, you knew that either there had been a death in the family or George was looking for you. After a while, you started to hope that there had been a death in the family."[51]

Harvey Greene, the Yankees' Director of Media Relations from 1986-1989, talked about the experience of working under Steinbrenner:

Steinbrenner had a reputation as a domineering boss. Only three Yankee employees were continuously employed from the start of Steinbrenner's ownership in 1973 until the end of his tenure. One of those is long time Head Athletic Trainer Gene Monahan, who in 2010 missed his first spring training in 48 years after being diagnosed with cancer.[50]

The 1986 World Series was called "Steinbrenner's nightmare",[48] because it was a showdown between two of the Yankees' biggest rivals, their cross-town rival the New York Mets and their most hated rival, the Boston Red Sox. As a result, Steinbrenner wrote articles in the New York Post on the World Series.[49] The Mets won that World Series, which relieved many Yankee fans.

Steinbrenner usually kept his complaints about the team broadcasters he approved of (except for the YES Network crew, who have generally not been his direct employees) out of the newspapers. However, he was known to be upset with the sometimes blunt commentary of former broadcaster Jim Kaat and former analyst Tony Kubek.

In addition to being an intense boss to his on-field employees, Steinbrenner was also known for pressuring and changing off-field employees (including various publicity directors), sometimes chewing them out in public. Longtime Cardinals announcer Jack Buck once said that he had seen Steinbrenner's yacht and that, "It was a beautiful thing to observe, with all 36 oars working in unison."[47] Former sportscaster Hank Greenwald, who called Yankee games on WABC radio for two years, once said he knew when Steinbrenner was in town by how tense the office staff was.

Off the field

The Steinbrenner family added a monument to Monument Park on September 20, 2010 to honor Steinbrenner.[46] He is buried at Trinity Memorial Gardens in Trinity, Florida.

On July 13, 2010, the morning of the heart attack at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Florida.[43] His death came nine days after his 80th birthday, two days after the passing of long time Yankee Stadium public address announcer Bob Sheppard,[44] and eight days before that of former Yankee manager Ralph Houk. On July 14, the Yankees announced that players and coaches would wear a Steinbrenner commemorative patch on the left breast of their home and road uniforms, and a Bob Sheppard commemorative patch on the left arm.[45]

Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard memorialized on the facade of Yankee Stadium


In 2005 the Yankees became the first American professional sports franchise to be conservatively estimated as being worth over one billion dollars. If one adds the $1.2 billion valuation of the 36% Yankees owned YES Network to the team revenue (the other 64% is owned by Goldman Sachs and the former New Jersey Nets owner which is also a minority owner of the ballclub), they far surpass even the Dallas Cowboys in total estimated value.

George Steinbrenner was the first owner of a baseball team to sell cable TV rights (to MSG Network).[42]

George Steinbrenner's estimated net worth was $1.15 billion in 2009 according to the Forbes 400 List in Forbes magazine issued in September 2009.[41]

On April 13, 2010, Derek Jeter and Joe Girardi privately presented the first 2009 World Series Championship ring to Steinbrenner in his stadium suite. He was "almost speechless", according to reports.[40]

In subsequent occasional visits to spring training, regular-season games, and other outings, he used a wheelchair.[39]

Steinbrenner made a rare appearance in the Bronx on the field for the 79th All-Star Game on July 15, 2008. Wearing dark glasses, he walked slowly into the stadium's media entrance with the aid of several companions, leaning upon one of them for support. He later was driven out on to the field along with his son Hal at the end of the lengthy pre-game ceremony in which the All-Stars were introduced at their fielding positions along with 49 of the 63 living Hall of Famers.[38]

After ceding day-to-day control of the team, Steinbrenner made few public appearances and gave no interviews. Associates and family members refused to comment on rampant speculation concerning his declining health, specifically rumors that he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The Yankees went to great lengths to prevent anyone outside Steinbrenner's immediate family and closest business associates from speaking to him, or even getting a glimpse of him on the rare occasions when he made an appearance at Yankee Stadium. Temporary curtains were set up to block views of his entry and exit routes, and no one was allowed near the vehicles transporting him. The press elevator carrying media members downstairs to the interview areas were shut down before he arrived, and again toward the end of the game while he departed.[37]

From Tampa, Florida. After the 2007 season and the decision not to bring back manager Joe Torre, Steinbrenner was in poor enough health that he officially retired and handed control of the Yankees to his sons Hank and Hal Steinbrenner. Hank in particular shows similar traits to his father.[36]


The Yankees' demise was furthered by the postseason collapse of 2004. While leading the eventual World Champion Boston Red Sox three games to none (3-0) and 3 outs away from winning Game 4, the Red Sox stunned the Yankees and the baseball world by coming back to win Game 4 and then the next three games and sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. In 2008, the Yankees ended their post-season run with a third-place finish in the American League East. However, in 2009, the Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series to win a 27th championship, seven of which had been won under Steinbrenner's ownership.

The Yankees then made the playoffs every season through 2007. In 2003 they beat the Boston Red Sox to win the AL Pennant, but lost the World Series to the Florida Marlins, denying Steinbrenner—who had won the Stanley Cup in June of that year as part-owner of the New Jersey Devils—the distinction of winning championships in two major sports leagues in the same year.[35]

In 1995 the team returned to the playoffs for the first time since 1981, and in 1996, they beat the Atlanta Braves in six games to win the World Series. They went on to Series wins in 1998, 1999, and 2000, and fell short of a fourth straight title in 2001 with a seventh-game loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Steinbrenner was reinstated in 1993. Unlike past years, he was somewhat less inclined to interfere in the Yankees' baseball operations. He left day-to-day baseball matters in the hands of Gene Michael and other executives, and allowed promising farm-system players such as Bernie Williams to develop instead of trading them for established players. Steinbrenner's having "got religion" (in the words of New York Daily News reporter Bill Madden) paid off. After contending only briefly two years earlier, the 1993 Yankees were in the American League East race with the eventual champion Toronto Blue Jays until September. The 1994 Yankees were the American League East leaders when a players' strike wiped out the rest of the season. Similarly, a players' strike had cut short their 1981 playoff effort.[20]

Reinstatement and championship years

In 2001, Winfield cited the Steinbrenner animosity as a factor in his decision to enter the Hall of Fame as a representative of his first team, the San Diego Padres, rather than the team that brought him national recognition, the Yankees.[34]

[33] On July 30, 1990, Steinbrenner was banned permanently from day-to-day management (but not ownership) of the Yankees by

This criticism eventually became somewhat of an anachronism, as many believed Steinbrenner made the statement following the 1981 World Series.[29] Part of that comment later led Ken Griffey Jr. to list the Yankees as one team he would never play for.[30]

Where is Reggie Jackson? We need a Mr. October or a Mr. September. Winfield is Mr. May. My big guys are not coming through. The guys who are supposed to carry the team are not carrying the team. They aren't producing. If I don't get big performances out of Winfield, Griffey and Baylor, we can't win.
— Steinbrenner to New York Times sportswriter Murray Chass.

After the 1980 season, Steinbrenner made headlines by signing Dave Winfield to a 10-year, $23 million contract, making Winfield baseball's highest-paid player. In 1985, Steinbrenner derided Winfield's poor performance in a key September series against the Toronto Blue Jays:

Dave Winfield controversy

The "convicted" part of Billy Martin's famous 1978 "liar and convicted" comment referred to Steinbrenner's connection to Richard Nixon; in 1974, Steinbrenner pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to Nixon's re-election campaign, and to a felony charge of obstruction of justice.[28] He was personally fined $15,000 and his company was assessed an additional $20,000. On November 27 of that year, MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended him for two years, but later commuted it to fifteen months. Ronald Reagan pardoned Steinbrenner in January 1989, one of the final acts of his presidency.

Campaign contributions to Nixon and pardon

Another notable incident involving Steinbrenner's strict grooming policy involved the Yankees' acquisition of former [24] Steinbrenner later noted, "He looks like a Yankee, he sounds like a Yankee and he is a Yankee."[25] Damon claimed he was already planning on cutting his hair after the 2005 season.[26][27]

The most infamous incident involving facial hair occurred in 1991. Although Steinbrenner was suspended, the Yankee management ordered Don Mattingly, who was then sporting a mullet-like hair style, to get a hair cut. When Mattingly refused he was benched. This led to a huge media frenzy with reporters and talk radio repeatedly mocking the team. The WPIX broadcasting crew of Phil Rizzuto, Bobby Murcer, and Tom Seaver lampooned the policy on a pregame show with Rizzuto playing the role of a barber sent to enforce the rule. Mattingly would eventually be reinstated. Coincidentally, The Simpsons episode "Homer at the Bat", which was filmed earlier that year, included Mattingly as a guest star who is suspended from play by Mr. Burns for his sideburns being too long, despite shaving the area of his head above where side burns grow. In 1995, Mattingly again ran afoul of the policy when he grew a goatee. Steinbrenner publicly criticized him for it and Mattingly eventually trimmed it to a mustache. David Wells occasionally wore a goatee and informed the media he would be willing to pay any fine to do so.

In 1983, at Steinbrenner's behest, Yankee coach Yogi Berra ordered Goose Gossage to remove a beard he was growing. Gossage responded by shaving away the beard but leaving a thick exaggerated mustache extending down the upper lip to the jaw line, a look Gossage still sports to this day.

During the 1973 home opener against the Cleveland Indians, as the Yankees, caps removed, were standing at attention for the National Anthem, Steinbrenner, in the owner's box next to the New York dugout, noticed that several players' hair was too long for his standards. As he did not yet know the players' names, he wrote down the uniform numbers of the offenders (Thurman Munson, Bobby Murcer, and Sparky Lyle), and had the list, along with the demand that their hair be trimmed immediately, delivered to Houk. The order was reluctantly relayed to the players.[23]

Another notable Steinbrenner policy was his military-style grooming code: All players, coaches, and male executives were forbidden to display any facial hair other than mustaches (except for religious reasons), and scalp hair could not be grown below the collar. (Long sideburns and "mutton chops" were not specifically banned.) The policy led to some unusual and comical incidents.

Facial hair policy

During the 1981 World Series, Steinbrenner provided a colorful backdrop to the Yankees' loss of the series. After a Game 3 loss in Los Angeles, Steinbrenner called a press conference in his hotel room, showing off his left hand in a cast and various other injuries that he claimed were earned in a fight with two Dodgers fans in the hotel elevator. Nobody came forward about the fight, leading to the belief that he had made up the story of the fight in order to light a fire under the Yankees.[20] After the series, he issued a public apology to the City of New York for his team's performance, while at the same time assuring the fans that plans to put the team together for 1982 would begin immediately.[21] He was criticized heartily by players and press alike for doing so, as most people felt losing in the World Series was not something requiring an apology.[22]

Steinbrenner quickly became famous for his rapid turnover of management personnel. In his first 23 seasons, he changed managers 20 times; Billy Martin alone was fired and rehired five times. He also employed 11 general managers over 30 years. He was equally famous for pursuing high-priced free agents and then feuding with them. In July 1978, Billy Martin famously said of Steinbrenner and his $3 million outfielder Reggie Jackson, "The two were meant for each other. One's a born liar, and the other's convicted." The comment resulted in Martin's first departure, though officially he resigned (tearfully), before Yankees President Al Rosen could carry out Steinbrenner's dictum to fire him.

"There is nothing in life quite so limited as being a limited partner of George Steinbrenner."

—Yankees minority owner John McMullen[19]

The 1973 off-season would continue to be controversial when Steinbrenner and Paul fought to hire former Oakland Athletics manager Dick Williams, who had resigned immediately after leading the team to its second straight World Series title. However, because Williams was still under contract to Oakland, the subsequent legal wrangling prevented the Yankees from hiring him. On the first anniversary of the team's ownership change, the Yankees hired former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Bill Virdon to lead the team on the field.

The announced intention was that Burke would continue to run the team as club president. But Burke later became angry when he found out that Paul had been brought in as a senior Yankee executive, reducing his authority, and quit the team presidency in April 1973. (Burke remained a minority owner of the club into the following decade, but as fellow minority owner [19]) Paul was officially named president of the club on April 19. It would be the first of many high-profile departures with employees who crossed paths with "The Boss". At the conclusion of the 1973 season, two more prominent names departed: manager Ralph Houk, who resigned and took a similar position with the Detroit Tigers; and general manager Lee MacPhail, who became president of the American League.

On January 3, 1973, Steinbrenner and minority partner Burke led a group of investors, which included Lester Crown, John DeLorean and Nelson Bunker Hunt, in purchasing the Yankees from CBS.[17] For years, the selling price was reported to be $10 million. However, Steinbrenner later revealed that the deal included two parking garages that CBS had bought from the city, and soon after the deal closed, CBS bought back the garages for $1.2 million. The net cost to the group for the Yankees was therefore $8.8 million.[18]

The Yankees had been struggling during their years under CBS ownership, which had acquired the team in 1965. In 1972, CBS Chairman William S. Paley told team president E. Michael Burke the media company intended to sell the club. As Burke later told writer Roger Kahn, Paley offered to sell the franchise to Burke if he could find financial backing. Steinbrenner, who had participated in a failed attempt to buy the Cleveland Indians from Vernon Stouffer one year earlier,[16] was brought together with Burke by veteran baseball executive Gabe Paul.

Steinbrenner's introductory press conference as owner of the Yankees. Team president E. Michael Burke is in background.

New York Yankees career

With his burgeoning sports aspirations put on hold, Steinbrenner turned his attention to the his family's business full-time, Steinbrenner invested in a mere half-dozen shows, including the 1974 Tony Award nominee for Best Musical, Seesaw, and the 1988 Peter Allen flop, Legs Diamond.[15]

In 1960, against his father's wishes, Steinbrenner entered the sports franchise business for the first time with basketball's Cleveland Pipers, of the American Basketball League (ABL). Steinbrenner had hired John McClendon, who became the first African American coach in professional basketball and persuaded Jerry Lucas to join his team instead of the rival National Basketball Association.[13][14] The Pipers switched to the new professional ABL in 1961; the new circuit was founded by Abe Saperstein, owner of the Harlem Globetrotters. The league and team experienced financial problems, and McClendon resigned in protest halfway through the season; however, the Pipers had won the first half of a split season. Steinbrenner replaced McClendon with former Boston Celtics star Bill Sharman, and the Pipers won the ABL championship in 1961-62. The ABL folded in December 1962, just months into its second season. Steinbrenner and his partners lost significant money on the venture, but Steinbrenner paid off all of his creditors and partners over the next few years.[10]

Steinbrenner joined Kinsman Marine Transit Company in 1957, the Great Lakes shipping company that his great-grandfather Henry had purchased in 1901 from The Minch Transit Company, which was owned by a family relation, and renamed.[11] Steinbrenner worked hard to successfully revitalize the company, which was suffering hardship during difficult market conditions. In its return to profitability, Kinsman emphasized grain shipments over ore.[10] A few years later, with the help of a loan from a New York bank, Steinbrenner purchased the company from his family. He later became part of a group that purchased the American Shipbuilding Company, and, in 1967, he became its chairman and chief executive officer. By 1972, the company's gross sales were more than $100 million annually.[12]

While studying at Ohio State, he served as a graduate assistant to legendary Buckeye football coach Woody Hayes. The Buckeyes were undefeated national champions that year, and won the Rose Bowl. Steinbrenner served as an assistant football coach at Northwestern University in 1955, and at Purdue University from 1956 to 1957.

Pre-Yankees career

He met his wife-to-be, Elizabeth Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann) Zieg, in Columbus, and married her on May 12, 1956.[10] The couple had two sons, Hank and Hal, and two daughters, Jessica Steinbrenner and Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindal.

Steinbrenner entered Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He was an accomplished hurdler on the varsity track and field team, and served as sports editor of The Williams Record, played piano in the band, and played halfback on the football team in his senior year.[10] He joined the United States Air Force after graduation, was commissioned a second lieutenant and was stationed at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio. Following honorable discharge in 1954, he did post-graduate study at Ohio State University (1954–55), earning his master's degree in physical education.

[7] Steinbrenner had two younger sisters, Susan and Judy.[7]

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