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George Steinbrenner III: The Greatest Sports Owner

Written by Tom Johnson
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George Steinbrenner III (1930-2010) is best known for his win at all cost attitude. During his 37 years with the Bronx Bombers, he won 7 World Series titles and 11 pennants. His outspokenness, driving salaries up for other teams, and the stubbornness for clean cut individuals made “The Boss” a controversial figure.

In the 1973 home opener against the Cleveland Indians, George noticed a few individuals (Thurman Munson, Bobby Murcer, and Sparky Lyle) had their hair too long. Steinbrenner was obsessed with the military style cut. Don Mattingly was benched for sporting a mullet and refusing to trim his hair during the 1991 season. All players, coaches, and male executives were forbidden to display any facial hair other than mustaches (except for religious reasons), and scalp hair could not be grown below the collar.

The casual sports fan believes Steinbrenner bought his World Series titles and simply paid for every good player he wanted. This started after the 1980 season in which he signed Dave Winfield to a 10-year, $23 million contract, making him the highest paid player in the game. His outspokenness showed when Winfield played poorly in the playoffs and said: “Where is Reggie Jackson? We need a Mr. October or a Mr. September. Winfield is Mr. May. My big guys are not coming through. The guys who are supposed to carry the team are not carrying the team. They aren't producing.”


In 1990, Steinbrenner received a lifetime ban for paying a gambler to try to find dirt on Dave Winfield after he sued the Yankees for not contributing $300K to his foundation, which was a contract agreement. This is the reason Winfield entered the Hall of Fame as a San Diego Padre, rather than the team that made him famous.

In 1993, George was reinstated and the newest empire started. The Yankees were letting home grown talent rise through the farm system rather than purchasing players. Great players such as Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera came up through the farm system. The Yankees seemed unstoppable as they won World Series titles in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.

While George was viewed as an evil person at times with his poor attitude and throwing his players under the bus, he was also a generous man. He contributed to the Jimmy Fund, which is held in Boston and is a fundraiser to fight against cancer. He also gave money to students like parents give out candy to trick-or-treaters.


The reality of George Steinbrenner III is he did not buy his titles any more than the other clubs did when they won the World Series. George simply put out a solid product out on the field year after year and turned a $10 million franchise into a $1.2 billion heavyweight. It’s not his problem he was a better owner than his peers. He wanted to make his fans (along with himself) happy. His life was the New York Yankees and we’ll likely never see a better sports owner in our lifetime.

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