Happy 75th Birthday, Boss (George Steinbrenner)
The principal owner of the Yankees once said: "You measure the value of
a ballplayer by how many fannies he puts in the seats." Apparently, he
has changed his mind on that.
The $200 million New York Yankees are still putting fannies in seats in
record numbers. But the winning is no longer as easy. "The players have
to want to win as much as I do," the Boss snapped.
"My patience is a little short by the fact that the team is not
performing up to its great capabilities," Steinbrenner said in a
statement put out by spokesman Howard Rubenstein who said the Yankees
owner dictated the statement to him while lifting weights. "He hasn't
lost his fighting spirit," Rubenstein
said. "He said, `We'll never give up.' He wants this message to be
Through the years, George Steinbrenner has delivered many messages -
some of them mixed. His reign began on a rainy morning in January of
1973. The young Cleveland industrialist stood at the entrance to
Manhattan's '21' Club. The new principal owner of the Yankees said he
would be too busy with his shipyard
business to be that involved in the day-to-day affairs of running the
Born July 4th, 1930, in Rocky River, Ohio, George Michael Steinbrenner
III was a multi sport athlete at Culver Military Academy and went on to
be an assistant football coach at Northwestern and Purdue universities.
Steinbrenner made his money as owner and chief operating officer of the
American Shipbuilding Company, a Cleveland-based firm. One of
Steinbrenner's most prominent characteristics has always been
unpredictability. It is not the kind of behavior one would expect
from a Williams College graduate, an English major whose senior thesis
was the heroines in the novels of Thomas Hardy.
With the Yankees he was called "the Boss" almost from the start. In his
first 17 years Steinbrenner changed managers 17 times. And as the years
have gone on he upped that stat - 21 managers and 11 GMs moved in and
out in 27 years. Steinbrenner gave Billy Martin five separate terms as
"Nothing is more limited," limited partner John McMullen pointed out,
"than being a limited partner of George's." Center stage, top of the
heap, pulling the strings - all of these things have been Steinbrenner's
"I am dead set against free agency," Steinbrenner said. "It can ruin
baseball." That is another part of his profile. He says things he
doesn't mean. Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, and on and
on - have been rewarded with millions and millions of George
Steinbrenner Yankee dollars. There have been times when the Yankees were
so stuffed with free agent superstars, there was barely room in the
lineup for all them.
Suspension for his dealings with small-time gamblers, reinstatement,
feuds with players - "issues" galore for Steinbrenner. But no one can
quarrel with his success and dedication to the franchise. As the 2005
season got underway, Steinbrenner's tenure as Yankee owner - 32 seasons
was the all time best.
there are no signs that he is letting go of the reins any time soon.
Despite his pronouncement that Son-in-law Steve Swindal will succeed
him, "the Boss" won't tip his hand when he will let go.
"I love what I am doing, so I will not speculate,'' he said.
# # #
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About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
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