Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
George Michael Steinbrenner III (born July 4, 1930), often known simply as "The Boss", is best known as the principal owner of the New York Yankees. He also owns an interest in the New Jersey Nets and the New Jersey Devils. His outspokenness and role in driving up player salaries have made him one of baseball's more controversial figures.
Steinbrenner was born in Rocky River, Ohio. He grew up in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. He ran track and played football at Culver Military Academy in Indiana and ran track at Williams College in Massachusetts, where he graduated in 1952. After two years in the United States Air Force, Steinbrenner coached high school basketball and football in Columbus, Ohio before becoming an assistant football coach at Northwestern University and then at Purdue University. He married Joan Zieg on May 12, 1956, and joined his father's struggling company, the American Shipbuilding Company, in 1957.
In 1960, he bought the Cleveland Pipers of the National Industrial Basketball League. The team joined the American Basketball League the next year and won a championship, but Steinbrenner was unable to raise the necessary funds to join the National Basketball Association. The team went bankrupt, and he returned to the American Shipbuilding Company, eventually buying it.
Steinbrenner offered $9 million to buy the Cleveland Indians but was turned down. He bought the Yankees along with a group of investors from CBS on January 3, 1973 for $10 million. Since then, they have won 10 pennants and 6 World Series titles. His first general partner quit after 4 months, an act repeated by many who crossed paths with "The Boss."
He is infamous for both his pursuit of high-priced free agents and, in some cases, feuding with them. He is also known for changing personnel; he changed managers 20 times in his first 23 seasons (including firing Billy Martin 5 times and re-hiring him 4 times) and general managers 11 times in 30 years. Martin once said of Steinbrenner and his $3 million outfielder Reggie Jackson, "One's a born liar and the other's convicted." The comment resulted in Martin's first firing.
The "convicted" part of the comment referred to Steinbrenner's connection to Richard Nixon: he was indicted on 14 criminal counts on April 5, 1974 and pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to Nixon's re-election campaign and obstruction of justice. He was fined $20,000. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended him on November 27, later reduced by 9 months. He returned to the Yankees in 1976. Ronald Reagan pardoned him on January 19, 1989.
On July 30, 1990, commissioner Fay Vincent banned Steinbrenner from baseball for life after he paid Howie Spira, a small-time gambler, $40,000 for dirt on his outfielder Dave Winfield after Winfield sued him for failing to pay his foundation the $300,000 guaranteed in his contract. Steinbrenner was reinstated in 1993.
Despite his controversial status (or perhaps, because of it) he does appear to poke fun at himself in the media. He hosted Saturday Night Live on October 20, 1990. In the opening sketch, he dreamt of a New York Yankees team managed, coached, and entirely played by himself. He appeared as himself in the Albert Brooks comedy, The Scout. After a public chastising of Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter for "partying too much," the two appeared in some VISA (credit card) commercials together. A 2004 commercial (also for VISA) depicted an injured George Steinbrenner unable to sign any checks.
George Steinbrenner was caricatured in the comedy Seinfeld. Larry David did his voice. His face was never seen. He was always viewed from the back whenever George Costanza entered his office at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees logo always appeared in the hall behind the office doorway.
Quotes by Steinbrenner
- Owning the Yankees is like owning the Mona Lisa.
- I will never have a heart attack. I give them.
- I am dead set against free agency. It can ruin baseball.
- Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.
- I won't be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all. I can't spread myself so thin. I've got enough headaches with my shipping company. -- after becoming principal owner of the Yankees.
Quotes about Steinbrenner
- George Steinbrenner is the center of evil in the universe.
- What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for!?
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