$10 Million Looks like A Bargain Now
George Steinbrenner died today. He turned 80 years old a couple weeks ago on the 4th of July. Some didn’t like George Steinbrenner much -- I did. Was he a saint, absolutely not, are you, am I?
I first heard of Steinbrenner when he bought my favorite baseball team, and by the way the most valuable and successful sports franchise on the planet. I vaguely remember hearing that this guy who owns a ship building company was going to pay 10-million dollars for the Yankees. At the time the Yankees were a struggling collection of players who couldn’t sniff a division championship, let alone a trip to the World Series. The biggest names on the club were Roy White and Mel Stottlemyre.
Things changed when George Steinbrenner bought the team. He had money, and he spent it getting the best players into the Yankee system and buying free agents from other teams. George Steinbrenner made winning a requirement, his highest and only goal. He made the people around him winners. He rewarded loyalty with loyalty. He was loud at times, often explosive and some didn’t like George Steinbrenner much -- I did.
He fired Manager Billy Martin, a former Yankee player, five times. He was a convicted felon and made illegal contributions to the Nixon campaign. He made some bad baseball decisions. He’d lose his temper and order some player traded or sent down to the minors. Some other team owners resented him and his ways. Other owners said it wasn’t fair that the Yankees in the largest TV market in the country had so much money and made so much more on merchandise and with their own TV deal. So, it was decided that the Yankees would have to pay a luxury tax to the smaller market teams. He kept spending and kept buying the best players, all for one sole purpose…to win.
He never apologized for being successful and some resented him for that. Some folks would say they never liked George Steinbrenner -- I did.
You may not know that this man who paid $10-million for the Yankees turned the franchise into one worth an estimated $1.6 billion. You may not know that in these times, where being rich is thought by some to mean you must be selfish, he gave so much back. In his home of Tampa, George Steinbrenner gave millions to elementary and high school sports efforts. The city sports programs were broke and George Steinbrenner bailed them all out. His generosity is well known throughout the Tampa area and other parts of the country.
My favorite player is Derek Jeter, always a Yankee. Tonight, he said he doesn’t feel he’s lost an owner…he feels he’s lost a friend.
And, while his magic touch and hard work make his business ventures so successful, his best business move came when he died this morning. Until Congress changes the law, there is currently (at least until the end of the year) no inheritance tax when you die. So, in George Steinbrenner style, his wealth will go to his sons and his family and to the people and organizations that he chose to leave it too. He paid his fair share of taxes over the years, but in death his wealth won’t go down some dark hole of government waste. Some people won’t like that about George Steinbrenner -- I do.
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