George Steinbrenner

Summary

George Michael Steinbrenner III (July 4, 1930 – July 13, 2010), was an American businessman who was the principal owner and manager of the MLB”s New York Yankees. His outspokenness and his role in raising player salaries made him one of the sport”s most controversial characters. Steinbrenner was also a former tycoon at a shipping company in Cleveland.

Thanks to the executive”s practicality in the baseball world, he earned the nickname “The Boss.” His tendency to meddle in the day-to-day on-field decisions, hiring (and sometimes re-hiring) managers led then-Yankees skipper Dallas Green to give him the nickname “Manager George.”

During Steinbrenner”s tenure from 1973 until his death, the longest in club history, the Yankees won 11 pennants and seven World Series titles. Such was his impact on the Yankees during his 37 years as owner that the club included him in one of the exclusive monuments at New York Stadium alongside names such as Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. The ceremony took place on September 20, 2010.

He died after suffering a heart attack at his Tampa home on the morning of July 13, 2010.

Steinbrenner was born in Rocky River, Ohio, the only son of Rita (née Haley) and Henry George Steinbrenner, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he majored in engineering in 1927. The elder Steinbrenner later became a wealthy shipping businessman who ran the family business, shipping kin, cargo ships and grain ore shipping on the Great Lakes. Steinbrenner has two younger sisters, Susan and Judy.

Steinbrenner entered Culver Military Academy in northern Indiana in 1944, graduating in 1948. He received his B.A. from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1952. While at Williams, George was an average student who led an active extracurricular life. He was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He was an all-around hurdler on the varsity track and field team, and served as sports editor of the student newspaper, played piano in the band and played running back on the soccer team his senior year. He joined the U.S. Air Force after graduation, was commissioned a second lieutenant and was stationed at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio. After being honorably discharged in 1954, he pursued graduate studies at Ohio State University (1954-55), where he earned his master”s degree in physical education.

He met his future wife, Elizabeth Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann) Zieg, in Columbus, and they were married on May 12, 1956. The couple had two sons, Hank Steinbrenner, Hal Steinbrenner, and, and two daughters Jessica and Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal.

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

In 1957, Steinbrenner joined Marine Transit Company, the Great Lakes shipping company that his great-grandfather had purchased in 1901 from the family-owned Minch Transit Company. Steinbrenner worked hard to revitalize the successful company, which was struggling under difficult market conditions. In his return to profitability, he was the relative who placed most emphasis on ore grain shipments. A few years later, with the help of a loan from a New York bank, Steinbrenner bought his family”s company. He later became part of a group that acquired the company”s shipbuilding, and, in 1967, he became its president and CEO. In 1972, the company”s gross sales were more than $100 million annually.

In 1960, against his father”s wishes, he entered the Steinbrenner sports franchise business for the first time with the Cleveland Pipers of the ABL. The Pipers were coached by John McClendon, who became the first African-American coach in professional basketball. McClendon had led Tennessee A&I University of the NAIA to three consecutive championships. The Pipers decanted by the new American professional basketball league in 1961, the new circuit was founded by Abe Saperstein, owner of the Harlem Globetrotters. The league and the team experienced financial problems, and resigned in the midst of it McClendon”s protest over the season, however, The Pipers won the first half of a split season. Steinbrenner replaced McClendon with former Boston Celtics star Bill Sharman, and the Pippers won the ABL championship in 1961-62. The ABL folded in December 1962, a few months into its second season. Steinbrenner and his partners lost significant money on the risk, but it paid off for Steinbrenner and all of his creditors and partners for years to come.

The Yankees had been struggling during their years in the ownership of CBS, which had acquired the team in 1965. In 1972, CBS President William S. Paley, said that team president Michael E. Burke told the media that he intended to sell the club. As Burke later told writer Roger Kahn, that Paley offered to sell the franchise to Burke if he could find financial backing. Steinbrenner, who had been involved in a failed attempt to buy the Cleveland Indians from Vernon Stouffer a year earlier, met with Burke and veteran baseball executive Paul.

On January 3, 1973, Steinbrenner and Burke led a group of investors, which included Lester Crown, DeLorean Juan and Nelson Bunker Hunt, in the purchase of the Yankees from CBS. For years, the sale price was reported at $10 million. However, Steinbrenner later revealed that the deal included two parking garages that CBS had purchased from the city, and shortly after the deal closed, CBS purchased the garages for $1.2 million. The net cost to the Yankees group therefore was $8.8 million.

Sources

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