Thursday, July 15, 2010
Sports News

Steinbrenner's impact on baseball beyond Yankees

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[July 15, 2010]  NEW YORK (AP) -- George Steinbrenner's impact on baseball went far beyond his New York Yankees.

He showed all teams that spending lavishly on players -- when done intelligently -- was a way to produce winners, and even some of his rivals adopted that strategy.

And he revolutionized the game with his decisions to start a television network and a catering company, and a huge equipment supply contract.

"Regardless of what one's personal opinion is, and obviously he was a close friend, his impact was historical," agent Tom Reich said Wednesday, a day after the colorful and controversial owner died of a heart attack at age 80.

"There are many aspects of the system that wouldn't exist without what he was able to do with the Yankees, not only as a team but as a brand and a business conglomerate. And that changed the financial topography of the game."

Steinbrenner headed a group that bought the Yankees in January 1973 for $8.7 million net and turned it into a large business valued at $1.6 billion by Forbes.


Since his health began to decline after the 2003 season, power shifted to Steinbrenner's children and the team's management.

Hal Steinbrenner, the younger son, became managing general partner in November 2008. Hal runs the business for himself, older brother Hank and sisters Jessica and Jennifer.

Team president Randy Levine oversees the finances of the Yankees, the YES Network and Legends Hospitality. Goldman Sachs has interests in the television and food companies, and the Dallas Cowboys co-own the catering business.

Lonn Trost, the team's chief operating officer, is in charge of the franchise's day-to-day business affairs, and general manager Brian Cashman consolidated authority over baseball personnel decisions when he agreed to a three-year contract in December 2005, a deal followed by another agreement in 2008.

In the second season of $1.5 billion new Yankee Stadium, New York has unrivaled resources. The Yankees won their seventh World Series title under Steinbrenner's ownership last season, their first since 2000. A $206 million opening-day payroll was $43 million higher than that of any other team, and the fruits of that spending shows. The Yankees' 56-32 record at the All-Star break is baseball's best, and they placed a high eight players in the All-Star game.

"The team's not for sale," Levine said Wednesday. "The succession had been planned and implemented. Yankees fans can expect the team to be run as it has been based on the vision of the Boss as carried out by his family."

Hal Steinbrenner was at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday along with Hank. While at the team's spring training home, they spent time reminiscing about their father.

"The family is doing well," Hank said. "Yesterday was tough. I want to thank everyone for the messages of condolence, especially the fans."

Outside the ballpark, the usual advertisements on the message board were replaced by "George M. Steinbrenner III/We will miss you" and "George M. Steinbrenner III/`The Boss' 1930-2010."

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Funeral plans were still in formation, with a private ceremony possible Saturday in Tampa or Ocala, where the family has a horse farm.

Public memorial services were under discussion for Tampa when the Yankees play there from July 30-Aug. 1 and for New York, with plans to be announced next week.

Tributes were planned for Friday and Saturday at Yankee Stadium for Steinbrenner and longtime public address announcer Bob Sheppard, who died Sunday at 99. Many former Yankees will be at the ballpark on Saturday for Old-Timers Day.

"The last two days have been filled with great emotion and personal reflection," Reggie Jackson said in a statement released by the Yankees. "The relationship I shared with The Boss is one that both heartens and comforts me during this difficult time. He meant so much to so many people, and I will always cherish him as a leader, a winner, and a friend. ... I am taking this time to reflect on the enormous and lasting imprint he made within the game of baseball, throughout the Yankees organization, and in my life."

For many, it is hard to image the pinstripes without Steinbrenner overseeing them with his unique mix of demands for excellence and unrestrained bluster.

"He will go down as one of the greatest owners in the history of baseball, and all of sports. No one wanted to win more than Mr. Steinbrenner," former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams said. "I always knew I had to be at the very top of my game to meet the high expectations he set. He made me a better baseball player -- and for that, I will be forever grateful to him."

In Washington, the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday night introduced by members from New York and Florida commemorating Steinbrenner's life and work.

"George Steinbrenner was larger than life, and he was a winner," New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand said. "His single-minded drive in the pursuit of excellence brought pride and glory to the Yankees franchise and all of New York City."

[Associated Press; By RONALD BLUM]

AP freelance writer Mark Didtler in Tampa, Fla., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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