Yankees Get A New Boss

George Steinbrenner has officially handed over control of the New York team to his son Hal. We examine the Steinbrenner family transaction.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Back now with Day to Day. Love them or hate them, the New York Yankees are baseball's most famous franchise, and now the team has a new boss. Major League Baseball announced yesterday that George Steinbrenner officially handed control of the Yanks to his son Hal Steinbrenner. Not an unexpected move, but it does mark an end of an era. NPR's Mike Pesca is here. Why now? Why did this transition of power occur just now?

MIKE PESCA: Madeleine, George Steinbrenner is 78 years old, and he has been in poor health. He hasn't actually been running the team day-to-day for a couple of years, but he was the titular head. However, in baseball, one person is listed as the control person, and so, they officially gave that designation to George Steinbrenner's son Hal. And it's just a very important day or era to mark, because George Steinbrenner, when you think about it, wasn't just one of the giants of sports; he was one of the most famous New Yorkers for the last 25 years. He presided over two great Yankee eras and a lull in between. In the '70s, the Yankees, they called the whole situation up there the Bronx Zoo, and then he won all those World Series in a row in the '90s. And even if they weren't the best franchise, when he owned the Yankees, you always had to keep your eye on them; you always had to pay attention. And he make sure people paid attention to him, whether it was blasting players and coaches in the media or hosting "Saturday Night Live" or appearing as himself on "Seinfeld."

BRAND: Yeah, he's really a larger-than-life personality. So, can you compare him to his son? What is his son like?

PESCA: Hal Steinbrenner, who's 39 years old, has an MBA. The question was, would he even want to run the Yankees? He's so desperately wanted to get out of his father's shadow. But in the last couple of years - and this happens in a lot of families - a promising youngster doesn't want to go on the family business, but then perhaps the patriarch is a little old. That seems to have happened with Hal. He's stepped up; he's taken the reins. And there's a little bit of meet-the-new-boss, same-as-the-old-boss, because today Hal Steinbrenner made a declaration about the pitcher, CC Sabathia, that they're trying to lure over with a contract of a $140 million over six years, and Hal said, hey, this contract is not going to be there forever, CC. So, he's putting the screws to this guy who's going to be one of the richest players in baseball, and that's very much a hallmark of the Steinbrenner era.

BRAND: So, apple, tree, not falling far from...

PESCA: Apple, apple tree, genetics.

BRAND: Big apple, (unintelligible). OK. NPR's Mike Pesca, thank you.

PESCA: You're welcome.

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