George Steinbrenner dead at 80

Yankees owner entertained, infuriated while building a sporting colossus

How will George Steinbrenner be remembered? As the man who assembled the greatest franchise in sport? Or the guy who fired Billy Martin five times? As a winner at all costs? Or the keeper of a team so chaotic that in the 1980s it was known as the “Bronx Zoo”? The two sides of Steinbrenner’s legacy bear no more resemblance than his statements did his actions. After promising in 1973 to keep his nose out of the team’s operations, Steinbrenner became the most flambloyant and interventionist owner in baseball, publicly threatening to fire managers who underperformed, alternately coddling and ridiculing his players (he once called one of his pitchers, Hideki Irabu, a “fat toad”). But along the way, Steinbrenner restored the Yankees’ lost grandeur, harnessing cable TV revenues to pay for the top players in the game and fielding a contender for the last 15 years of his life. The result: seven World Series championships, 11 pennants, a lavish new stadium and a $1.6-billion sporting empire, which his sons Hal and Hank now control. Not too shabby.

New York Times