Great article on Yankee owner George Steinbrenner ’52. Highlights included:

It’s another June evening in baseball and the Boston Red Sox are visiting New York for the latest showdown with their archenemy, the Yankees. As it is at every meeting between the teams, the stadium is packed and crackling with energy.

Few in the stands, though, notice that the man perhaps most responsible for the revival of their rivalry is not there. George Steinbrenner, the principal owner of the Yankees and the man New Yorkers love to hate, now watches more games at his home in Tampa, Fla., than he does in his private box above home plate.

Although he is 76 and noticeably slower than he was when he took over the Yankees 33 years ago, Mr. Steinbrenner remains, according to those who know and work with him, deeply involved in the Yankees operation. Despite rumors that failing health has shrunk his ambition, the Boss, as he is known to all in baseball, is pushing all of his employees to try to win championships — and spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year to accomplish it.

Yankees fans and the city’s news media, never warm and fuzzy about outsiders, initially greeted Mr. Steinbrenner’s arrival with skepticism. He professed admiration for the Yankees, talking about how as a child he could not wait for the team to visit Cleveland, his hometown, to play the Indians. He also promised to take a back seat, leaving the running of the team to others.

But he quickly did an about-face, bringing in his own people to run things, involving himself in every aspect of the club’s operations and alienating employees, players and fans. He publicly lambasted his managers and players — serially hiring and firing Billy Martin as manager in the 1970’s and 80’s, for example. The ranting went on for decades; in 1999, he called a pitcher, Hideki Irabu, a “fat toad.”

Buster Olney, a former sportswriter for The New York Times, summed up the Boss’s management style in his book, “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty”: “George Steinbrenner would never entrust his team to God. That would mean giving up too much control. Instead, the Yankees’ owner audited the team from moment to moment, like a caffeinated rent-a-cop monitoring a Wal-Mart through security cameras.”

Ouch. Steinbrenner was a DKE, like our own Frank Uible ’59 and David H.T. Kane ’58. Steinbrenner was been a faithful donor to Williams for many years, but I am sure that the alumni development office hopes that his estate planning keeps Williams in mind.

Facebooktwitter
Print  •  Email