George Steinbrenner, the greatest owner in the history of professional sports, died today at the age of 80 after suffering a heart attack, leaving a legacy that will undoubtedly live forever.
Steinbrenner’s New York Yankees have been the best team in baseball, having won seven World Series championships and appearing in four others since he bought the franchise in 1973.
The Boss’s must-win-at-any-cost nature brought the Yankees, and Major League Baseball, into the most prosperous era the sport has ever known.
Steinbrenner will likely be remembered most for helping usher in the divisive free agency system with the signing of Hall-of-Fame outfielder Reggie Jackson prior to the Yankees’ 1977 World Series-winning season. Since Jackson, Steinbrenner’s team has signed countless marquee free agents, including Roger Clemens and David Cone, and have traded for others, like current third baseman, Alex Rodriguez.
While I’m not a Yankees fan, I can certainly appreciate and respect everything the man brought to the sport of baseball, including turning it into appointment television and every game into a crowd-drawing event. His keen business sense in things like developing a Yankees brand, including their YES TV network, were admirable, and every team in baseball should try to emulate the man’s success rather than complaining about it. I can only hope Tom Ricketts and his family can follow the lead of The Boss and make the Cubs winners.