What George Steinbrenner Meant to the Yankees

Justin MorseContributor IJuly 13, 2010

George Steinbrenner once said, “I won't be active in the day-to-day operation of the Yankees, I'll stick to building ships." What a bold face lie he told that day . 

“King George” would become one of the most influential owners in the history of baseball.

“The Boss” was not only doing things to make the most money, but he was doing it for the fans.

While some fans out there would say that he was the worst thing to come to baseball, and actually made the game worse, I say no; he was just a fan of baseball and did what most baseball fans want their owners to do: give a damn about their team.  

While George had flaws, which lead to his suspension from the league twice, he also was the man that would go out to get the best players that were on the market, let alone his Yankees last year paid the most in luxury tax (over 160 million dollars which means the Yankees are giving the most to other franchises that need money). He was the owner that people hated because he was, in a way, playing fantasy baseball every year (like Dan Snyder is doing to football now).

George was one of the few owners that when it came down to business, he put the team first.

He respected the game and the franchise that he owned. He could have changed the road jerseys to black, but he rejected that idea and stuck with the grays. He respected the pinstripes because he was a fan like the rest of us. He could have changed the name of the stadium, or even sell the rights to name the new Yankee Stadium, but he kept it the same. As different owners add different things to their franchise, like the Red Sox using a different hat, “The Boss” kept the hats and logos the same way because it was tradition.

He bought the Yankees with the idea to raise up a Yankee franchise that was in poor times in the 1960s. He was able to win his first of seven championship in 1977, the Yankees’ first since 1962.

During the years where player’s names are on the back of jerseys, George never allowed that. He always reminded the people under him who signs the checks every month. When Johnny Damon signed with the Yanks in 2006, George reminded him that they have a businesslike style, and had to get a haircut and shave his beard. Damon listened and followed what “The Boss” said.

In times of when egos of players were growing, he bought the players and was able to put them in check. He used the media as his personal bully pulpit to motivate his players to win.

If I was an owner of any team, I would use any way I could to motivate my team into winning.

George did just that.

According to more than a few people, they don’t have any kind words for George; they say he is an egotistical, cold-hearted son of a gun who destroyed the game of baseball by raising prices. He was a bastard who would sign all the players he could to high contracts to make sure no one else can get them.

George didn’t even mind, heck I bet he embraced the fact that he was the most hated man in baseball. He was the villain who loved the spotlight on him because it would mean the spotlight would also be on the Yankees. One of his favorite lines “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.” How true he was to that line.

People hated Steinbrenner because of how he acted when he was an owner, yet they never heard the stories about how he would keep guys on payroll to make sure they would have money after retirement. He would give out money so kids could go to college and be able to make some money one day. George would give money in Tampa so that kids could play baseball every day. He gave money to the Hall of Fame so they can make repairs to the building.  

This is a side I never knew of George until today. I guess you can say that it is better for people to fear you than to love you.

George Steinbrenner took a struggling franchise that was in desperate need of a King.  He invested money and made the Yankees grow.

Let me remind you that he was still a fan of the game; while celebrating a championship in the clubhouse, Derek Jeter came up and smiled at George and said “someone is too dry in here” as he dumped champagne on him.

All he did was laugh.

He was an owner of a team that won seven championships during his tenure. He was a fan that was able to sneak into the clubhouse and be a part of the moment.

He saved the Yankees and brought them back to a place where they once were: the most feared team in baseball. He did all of this so that us, the fans who love the Yankees, can see that parade down the Canyons of Heroes one more time.

He is most likely one of the last owners in the MLB that respected the tradition of a team.

There will never be another “King George.”

Rest in Peace old man, your job is done.