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Ranking Executives for the HOF: #5 – George Steinbrenner

27th July 2006

Chris Isidore of CNN/Money called me today for his article running tomorrow on Bud Selig. Chris asked a question that I hadn’t been asked before, but one which I leaped at the answer.

Chris: “Does Bud Selig get into the Hall of Fame?”

Maury: “Absolutely,” I said without hesitation.

We wove through the various aspects of Selig… the ’94 Strike… how — or if — he fit into the collisions in the late ’80s and ’90s… the Wild Card… revenue sharing… the works. My contention was that Selig had dramatically altered baseball, possibly more than any other commissioner prior.

Then Chris shifted gears and asked yet another titillating question…

“Maury, give me your 1-5 of Front Office Executives that should be in the Hall of Fame.”

The first two were easy for me, but moving past that, I locked up.

It’s an interesting question; one that seems to have difficult barbs. For one, those executives that have lengthy tenure and have had large impacts, have, for the most part, stepped on some toes.

So, let’s try and see if I can get three more to round out a list of 1-5 Execs that should be in the Hall of Fame at some stage. I’ll start today and work backwards to number one over the next few days.

George Steinbrenner (#5): He was indicted and later found guilty for making illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon. He made $40,000 worth of payments to Howie Spira to try and dig up dirt on Dave Winfield. He was voted off the executive committee in ’97 after he sued MLB over disagreements regarding the club’s ten-year $93 million adidas deal. And that’s just some of the issues that King George has been involved in.

That said, he took a club that was floundering and has made it the most recognizable sports brand in the world. The club that the Cleveland shipping magnate purchased from CBS for $10 million in 1973 is now valued by Forbes to be $1.1 billion. Never let it be said that Steinbrenner hasn’t been willing to put his money where his mouth is, often times to the detriment of MLB.

The Luxury Tax can be directly tied to the Yankees, ergo, Steinbrenner. Whether the New Yankee Stadium will be nothing more than a Yankee version of other stadium designs prior, we’ll have to see.

King George and the Yankees have become the most recognizable icon for MLB. It will be interesting to see what happens when he departs from the Yankees and baseball. He is a galvanizing character in baseball, and one that certainly has his detractors due to how he’s made competitive balance extremely difficult for all by 1 or 2 other clubs. The other side of the coin? As Steinbrenner said, “You have to be willing to spend money, to make money.”

When he becomes eligible, I see him getting in. King George is my #5.

One Response to “Ranking Executives for the HOF: #5 – George Steinbrenner”

  1. The Baseball Journals » Blog Archive » Ranking Executives for the HOF: #4 - Judge Roy Hofheinz Says:

    [...] Last week, I started this somwhat subjective look at executives that I’d like to see in the Hall of Fame, ranking them from 1-5. Some are still alive, while others are not. I started at #5 with George Steinbrenner. [...]