The New York Yankees have had many great owners. Jacob Ruppert, for example, truly made the Yankees THE Yankees. His era started in 1915, when he bought the Yankees for less than half a million. During his time, Babe Ruth was bought from the Boston Red Sox, Yankee Stadium was built, and the Yankees won seven World Series Championships. Ruppert is possibly one of the most important predecessors of another iconic owner, George Steinbrenner.
In 1973, Steinbrenner bought the Yankees for $10 million. He quickly began stirring up the MLB, by signing free-agents to high priced contracts, Catfish Hunter, and Reggie Jackson among them. This resulted in back-to-back World Series wins in 1977, and 1978.
The Boss was very controlling, and had one clear mission... winning! In 1998, he was quoted as saying "Winning is the most important thing to me, after breathing. Breathing first, and then winning." He adapted a very no nonsense attitude about the way the organization should be run. Changing everything from grooming etiquette rules, to managers. In fact, managers changed 19 times between 1973 to 1990. This helped create the powerhouse that is the Yankees now.
Steinbrenner was all business. If something was wrong, he'd show up in the locker rooms, and address it with the team himself. It wasn't win, or lose with him. It was do, or die. He made the team grind out hard, or else. There was no room for excuses for a poor performance. After his passing in 2010, Paul O'Neill wrote an article about him in the New York Daily News. In it he says:
"There was definitely a reverence for him. You respected the man, what he had done for the organization. I loved his intensity, the way he wanted to win as mush as the team did."I personally loved The Boss. With his first few years in ownership, and his suspensions from baseball, I don't think that he received nearly as much credit, and respect as he should have. Not until much later in his life. People gave him credit for the Bronx Zoo era, but none really saw what genius it really was. Reggie in pinstripes was an incredible move. But all people saw was the love/hate relationship between Steinbrenner, and his managers and players. He wanted a World Series Championship every season. He didn't care if it seemed unrealistic to some, he wanted that for his team; for New York City.
I won't take anything away from Yankees owners of the past, but The Boss is in a league of his own. His passion, and drive to make this team the legendary icon it is today, was incredible. If you look at all the Yankees legends that have played for him, look at how much heart they had, and how hard they played, it was because The Boss reflected that same passion back onto them.
It's strange what the organization has become since his passing. They are still the Yankees. They still put on that uniform that holds so much history, but it seems like there is something missing. That flicker of light that The Boss brought to the team. The no nonsense attitude, coupled with a complete determination to see the team strive.
George Steinbrenner was once asked how he would like to be remembered. He said "He never stopped trying. That would be good enough for me." I don't know what the future holds for this team. Unfortunately, I'm not clairvoyant, and cannot tell you where we will be this post season. But I do know that The Boss never stopped trying. He never stopped wanting to make the Yankees organization better. He wanted the Yankees to live up to the legend. And, because of him, they have. An organization that Ruppert bought for less than half a million, is now worth more that $1.5 billion.
Happiest of birthdays, Mr. Steinbrenner. Your memory, and legend live on with the greatest of Yankees.
--Erica Morales BYB Senior Writer