George Steinbrenner: One To Remember

Hours before the 81st All-Star Game, the New York Yankees family and Major League Baseball lost one of its most well-known and influential figures when Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died that morning. Steinbrenner had been out of the public eye for health reasons over the past few years but his impact and presence was still felt around the Yankees clubhouse. Many players past and present referred to Steinbrenner as a friend and father figure and will never forget how he got their careers started.

Early on in his tenure as team owner, Steinbrenner proved he wanted to win through his actions. Some thought he was difficult to work with and wanted control but that control helped revitalize a Yankees franchise that was stale when he purchased the team in 1973. Within years of purchasing the franchise, the Yankees made trips to the World Series, brought in free agents like Reggie Jackson to re-energize the lineup and made the Yankees a powerful force in the American League. Steinbrenner wanted the money he had invested in the team to bring a championship and his attention to details early on made the Yankees a powerful force in the American League.

As team owner, Steinbrenner was not afraid to pull any punches when it came to managers and general managers. Steinbrenner fired and hired numerous managers over the years and brought back the late Billy Martin five times. Steinbrenner hated to lose and wasn’t afraid to part ways with any manager or general manager he felt was not getting the job done. This style may have seem unorthodox but helped make the Yankees competitive.

Steinbrenner had the reputation for being quick to pull the trigger but other moments proved he had a soft side for those in need. Steinbrenner gave money to different charities, organizations and to those in need of assistance. Not every story was publicized but Steinbrenner would often provide money, autographed memorabilia and even trips to the ballpark to those in need. While his public persona may have been negative, Steinbrenner did give back in numerous ways.

In the early 90s after getting back from a 2 1/2 year ban which resulted from hiring a known-gambler to dig up information on former Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield, Steinbrenner proved to Yankees fans he wanted a winner and spent money on free agents and the farm system. Steinbrenner brought in Joe Torre, who helped manage the team to six American League Championships and four World Series championships from 1996-2007. The team drafted and built a farm system that produced Andy Pettite, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and and Mariano Rivera. Torre spent big to bring in players such as Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Scott Brosius, Mike Mussina, David Cone and several others. “The Boss” as Steinbrenner was called was said to have spent over $1 billion on free agents during the past 15-20 years and this approach brought the Yankees championship teams.

Whether you are a Yankees fan or not, Steinbrenner’s presence in the game was felt and left an impact on not only the Yankees franchise but on the sport as well.

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~ by jeffrsabo on July 16, 2010.

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