Is George Steinbrenner a Hall of Famer?
Amidst Monday’s announcement that Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres are finalists for American League Rookie of the Year, we found out that another Yankee could be on the cusp of something special. The National Baseball Hall of Fame has released its Today’s Game Era ballot, which consists of ten worthy candidates whose impacts to the game came from 1988 to the present, including the late Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner. During his time as The Boss of the Bronx Bombers, Steinbrenner’s ownership was responsible for eleven American League pennants and seven World Series titles in a 37-year period. There is no denying his track record, so why is there any doubt about his candidacy for this great honor? All of the success that George Steinbrenner enjoyed for decades did not come without its controversy. His leadership style could be described as brash, resulting in feuds with managers and rapid turnover of management personnel. In his first 23 seasons in the Bronx, he changed managers 20 times. Billy Martin alone was fired and rehired five times. General Managers were not safe either, as Steinbrenner employed eleven different GMs over 30 years.
Despite his seeming inability to manage his employees effectively, perhaps the most controversial aspect of his ownership were the two instances in which he was suspended from Major League Baseball. The first suspension, for 15 months, came in 1974 over illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon. The second, coming in 1990, was handed down after it was found that Steinbrenner hired Howard Spira to dig up dirt on Dave Winfield. Initially, this was to be a lifetime ban, but was later reduced to three years. In his absence, GM Gene Michael was free to assemble his vision of a team that would ultimately turn into a dynasty under Brian Cashman. With Cashman, George Steinbrenner solidified his legacy as an owner who could rule with an iron fist but do it effectively and with much success. The only question is whether or not the panel of 16 voters can look past the controversy of his ownership and see the dynasty for all its greatness. Steinbrenner will need 75% of the vote (12 out of 16) to be enshrined next summer. It is worth noting that The Boss received fewer than five votes the last time he was up for consideration. If nothing else, the irony of George Steinbrenner and Mariano Rivera in the same Hall of Fame class would make for a great storyline in New York.