This past Monday, the New York Yankees unveiled the largest plaque ever displayed in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium, a seven-by-five-foot, 760-pound monument dedicated to the Yankees long-time owner, George Steinbrenner, towers over the plaques dedicated to Yankee legends Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio.
Some people believe that the monument is too large. Others believe that the plaque is appropriate.
Given Steinbrenner's impact on the Yankee brand, its size is justified for the larger-than-life Yankee owner, and here are two reasons why.
When Mr. Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees in 1973 for a paltry $10 million, the Yankees were a struggling franchise. Steinbrenner believed that a franchise that had captured 21 World Series Championships should be restored to glory. The restless Steinbrenner completely changed the culture of the Yankee brand. During his first 23 years as principal owner, Steinbrenner went through 20 different managers!
In addition to Mr. Steinbrenner's quick trigger with management, he had little time for players who couldn't produce for him.
Steinbrenner became a huge proponent of free agent acquisitions. Steinbrenner's first key free agent signing was pitcher Catfish Hunter. From that moment on, Steinbrenner went out each year and grabbed the market's best talent.
Some of his key signing included "Mr. October," Reggie Jackson, Rich "Goose" Gossage, Dave Winfield, Darryl Strawberry, Alex Rodriguez, and CC Sabathia. From 1978 to 2009, Steinbrenner collected seven World Series titles and a lengthy list of opposing team owners who hated his aggressive, military-esque demeanor.
Steinbrenner biggest achievement will be enjoyed by Yankee fans forever. Steinbrenner envisioned creating a television network solely devoted to the Yankee brand. That vision became a reality in 2002 when the YES network debuted. Goldman Sachs technically owns the YES Network, but the Yankee brand dominates the network's programming.
Without Mr. Steinbrenner's vision, it would not have been possible.
Currently, the Yankee brand is valued at over $1 billion. Not too bad for a $10 million investment.
At the end of the day, the Steinbrenner Family calls the shots on the Yankee brand.
If they want to retire Derek Jeter's number tomorrow, it will happen. If they want the Yankees to start wearing pink uniforms, expect the team to resemble a band of Pink Panthers. If they want to pay Cliff Lee $50 million in the offseason, then expect the check to be written tomorrow.
The family holds all of the cards and they felt like this was the proper tribute to their late father.
Yankee fans can thank Mr. Steinbrenner for creating a culture within the Yankee brand.
His "Win Now" mantra will be the standard for any Yankee team, past, present, or future. Without Mr. Steinbrenner's ownership, who knows where the Yankee brand would be today.
Do you agree or disagree with the size of Mr. Steinbrenner's monument?