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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 conveyed."

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 team.

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 manager.

"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 way.

"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. 
And 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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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

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. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
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*Autographed copies of Frommer books are available .
 

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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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