New York Yankees History: George Steinbrenner Purchases Team
The New York Yankees were a downtrodden franchise in the late 1960’s and the early part of the 1970’s. On this day in 1973, George Steinbrenner purchased the team, determined to make them winners once again.
The New York Yankees had been a dynasty, the best team of the 1950’s and into the early part of the 1960’s. With stars like Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, and so forth, the Yankees were a force to be reckoned with. However, as the team began to age, and when CBS, who purchased the team in 1964 began to cut costs, the Yankees fell from atop the American League.
Then along came George Steinbrenner, who purchased the Yankees on this day in 1973. Despite his initial claims that he would be a hands-off owner, he quickly injected himself into the team’s plans. In signing Catfish Hunter as a free agent, and later inking the likes of Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Goose Gossage, and Don Gullett, he brought the Yankees back to prominence.
That desire to win at all costs led to some less than stellar signings. Players like Omar Moreno, Ed Whitson, and Roy Smalley, amongst a plethora of others, were brought in without any consideration of how they would fit the team. Steinbrenner would demand that a player be traded for the slightest of gaffes. And if they made a mistake that he considered particularly appalling, they would be out the door almost before the game ended.
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Of course, the Steinbrenner Era was not without controversy or, in the early days, chaos. Billy Martin had five stints as the manager, and was even expected to come back a sixth time. Steinbrenner changed managers like people change socks, and almost with the same frequency. Eventually, after staying with Joe Torre, the Yankees got back to their expected place atop the standings.
Then there were the suspensions. He was initially suspended for two years in 1974 for making illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon, but an appeal dropped the ban to 15 months. Steinbrenner was suspended a second time in 1990 for associating with gamblers, and Howard Spira in particular, to destroy Winfield’s reputation. He was later reinstated in 1993.
Throughout it all, Steinbrenner changed baseball. He used free agency as a tool to build a team, rather than to supplement the squad. One of the first to give out lavish contracts and to use the Yankees financial situation to his advantage, he changed the playing field in baseball forever. And, who could forget his character on Seinfeld? Makes me want a calzone.
On this day in 1973, the fate of the New York Yankees would change as George Stenbrenner purchased the team for $10 Million. Considering what they became, and their value now, it was quite the wise investment.