George Steinbrenner was once a four-letter word in New York. Yet, George Steinbrenner is mourned today, after he passed away this morning at age 80. The former Yankees’ owner had his health decline for years, and had already largely stepped away from the franchise. With his sons taking command, the most controversial owner in baseball history had quietly stepped away, which didn’t seem likely for a long time. But, in spite of being a pariah in some circles for decades, George Steinbrenner is being honored as a legend after his death today.
Steinbrenner started his tenure in 1973, taking over a fading Yankees team. After over 40 years of greatness, Yankee baseball had hit a low point, with its former glory now long gone. But, within three years, Steinbrenner brought the Yankees back to power, and kicked off a tabloid-worthy legacy.
Over the next three decades, he became a punch line for his constant firing of managers, especially Billy Martin. He was also vilified for his tactics, and for seeming to buy championships with his deep pockets. Steinbrenner was even banned from the game in the early ’90s, which appeared to doom him to infamy.
In spite of all this, George Steinbrenner brought two world titles to New York in the ’70s, and made them powerhouses again until the mid ’80s. But, by the time he returned to the owner’s box, the Yankees were on a down-slide again, having gone over 15 years without a title. At that point, Steinbrenner’s tactics began to change.
After the baseball strike, Steinbrenner appointed Joe Torre as manager, and actually kept him there. There would be no more sudden firings and spats with management, especially since the Yankees started to win again. They became the team of the ’90s, winning four titles in five years.
Thanks to this newest Yankees dynasty, George Steinbrenner began to be seen as something other than a tyrant. He and the Yankees were still vilified for their deep pockets and constant winning, yet his image in the baseball world had finally softened. But, Steinbrenner’s health began to decline, right as the Yankees began to collapse in the postseason.
Eventually, even George Steinbrenner had to give up control, as sons Hal and Hank took over operations. However, the new heirs and GM Brian Cashman continued the Steinbrenner legacy, delivering one last World Series ring for George last year.
George Steinbrenner died of a massive heart attack today, on the day of the All-Star Game. His loss will obviously be honored tonight in Anaheim, and by the Yankees family when the regular season resumes. The club is already mourning legendary public address announcer Bob Sheppard, and now “The Boss” has left as well.
George Steinbrenner is survived by wife Joan, and their four children.
New York Times- “George Steinbrenner, Yankees’ Owner, Dies At 80”
Los Angeles Times- “George Steinbrenner dies at 80; owner of New York Yankees”
ABC Sport- “Yankees owner Steinbrenner dies”