The Yankees former and late owner, George Steinbrenner, and Donald Trump, President of the United States is not as odd a pairing as you might think.
Yankees former owner, George Steinbrenner, made his fortune as a builder of ships. He could have used the millions he made to collect stamps or art, but he chose instead to invest in what was then a declining baseball franchise. In 1973, he purchased the New York Yankees from C.B.S. for $10 million, the sum of money his son, Hal, now pays a number three starter for one season.
Donald Trump made his fortune in real estate. He too would have been a powerhouse stamp or art collector if he had chosen to do so. Instead, he became a reality television star, until he became bored with that and he decided to run for President of the United States. He now resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
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The Yankees currently have an estimated value of $2,000,000,000, which represents two-hundred times the ten million that Steinbrenner paid for the Yankees. No one has ever calculated the value of owning the White House for four years.
These two men have much in common. They are first and foremost larger than life characters, operating on the biggest stages of all. At times, they are brash and vulgar. They think with their mouth, and they take no hostages. You are quickly defined as friend or foe, and most, rapidly learn that it not a good idea to fall into the latter category.
They both have far reaching vision. As the owner of the Yankees, George Steinbrenner only wanted to restore the Yankees as winners when he took over the team. He went out and bought Jim Hunter and Reggie Jackson from the Oakland Athletics. He brought in a fiery manager in Billy Martin and was rewarded with two consecutive World Championships in 1977 and 1978. He suffered through the Eighties but came back strong in the Nineties when the Yankees captured four more titles in the space of five years.
Donald Trump, only a year ago, was facing 16 Republican challengers. Looming ahead was the Clinton political dynasty. He persevered, he won. Like Steinbrenner, he believed in the path he had chosen when only a bare few supported him.
He was reviled as a maverick, a sham, and a con artist. He hired and fired members of his campaign team as often as George Steinbrenner hired and fired Billy Martin. But also very much like Steinbrenner, he put it all aside, forging forward and never looking back.
Both men were also suspended from the fraternities of which they were members. The Yankees New York Times recounts what caused Yankees owner Steinbrenner to be disenfranchised from Major League Baseball:
“In November 1974, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended him for two years — a term later reduced to 15 months — after he pleaded guilty to two charges, one a felony and the other a misdemeanor: conspiring to make illegal corporate contributions to President Richard M. Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign, and trying to “influence and intimidate employees” of his shipbuilding company to lie to a grand jury about the matter. He was fined $15,000 in the criminal case but given no jail time.”
And Donald Trump was expelled from the fraternity he belonged to as well, namely, the Republican Party. Because no one readily cedes authority and power. The battle between the two entities will continue over the next four years. And much like the baseball owners who hopped on the Yankees bandwagon with their attempts to buy championships, it remains to be seen if the Republican leaders will the Trump fold.
The Yankees Owner Differs In One Way
As the owner of the Yankees, though, George Steinbrenner demonstrated that he had a “heart” and a soft spot for the underdog. He fired Billy Martin four times, but he hired him four times as well. He brought Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry to the Yankees when no on else wanted them, with Gooden rising from the pitching dead to pitch a no-hitter in a Yankees uniform.
With Trump, we only know what we’ve seen so far. The issue of immigration, for instance, tests the soul of America. Punishing many for the crimes of a few does not mix with American values or the Constitution.
But at the same time, perhaps we need to remember that the George Steinbrenner of the Nineties was a different man than the Yankees owner of the 1970’s. Donald J Trump has four years to show his true colors.