Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner Dies At 80 Longtime New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died Tuesday. He took a flagging franchise and built it into the most powerful in baseball -- and made a lot of waves along the way.
NPR logo

Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner Dies At 80

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128495099/128495309" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner Dies At 80

Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner Dies At 80

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128495099/128495309" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AL: NPR's Mike Pesca has this look back at his life.

MIKE PESCA: The singular trait that set him apart, according to Paul O'Neill, who won four World Series with the Yankees, was Steinbrenner's competitiveness.

PAUL O: I've never played for anybody that felt like, you know, one of your teammates as far as competing to win. You know, I had all the respect in the world for him because I knew that he went in to win as bad as I did, and it wasn't a business to him. It was a challenge to win.

PESCA: To get there, Steinbrenner changed managers like some people changed socks and seemed to hold both in similar regard. He hired and fired Billy Martin five times. They made a beer commercial about it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ADVERTISEMENT)

GEORGE STEINBRENNER: The best thing is it tastes so great.

BILLY MARTIN: No, George, the best thing is less filling.

STEINBRENNER: No, Bill, it tastes great.

MARTIN: Less filling, George.

STEINBRENNER: Billy, it tastes great.

MARTIN: Less filling, George.

PESCA: Martin lost that argument, too. In the 1970s, the Yankees won and brawled their way to two World Series titles and the nickname The Bronx Zoo. Steinbrenner was proudly meddlesome, he told "60 Minutes" in 1987.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEVISION PROGRAM, "60 MINUTES")

STEINBRENNER: Isn't that funny, I don't really care whether they like me. I'd like them to respect me, and sometimes that doesn't happen. What I try to do is instill a sense of discipline in my players, a mental toughness and a discipline.

PESCA: But upon his return in 1993, Steinbrenner had either mellowed or was smart enough to start trusting his underlings. Paul O'Neill remembers the boss offering support to a Yankee second baseman whose argument with an umpire led to a playoff loss.

NEILL: So there were two sides of George that, you know, only the public saw the intense side.

PESCA: Mike Pesca, NPR News, New York.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.