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George Steinbrenner Belongs In The Hall of Fame

Eliot J. Schechter, Getty Images

Love him or hate him, George Steinbrenner was a baseball icon.  Therefore, I firmly believe the late New York Yankees owner belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

To me, this is a slam dunk decision.

Steinbrenner changed baseball forever. 

He saw free agency for what it was – an opportunity for the owners to improve their teams.  This was a way to build a great club and win now – no matter what the cost. 

He was an entrepreneur that created the concept of exclusive cable television deals and the creation of his own regional network.  And let’s not forget, it was Steinbrenner that built a $1.2 billion state-of-the-art ballpark.

Let’s face it, he won.  Seven World Championships since he purchased the team back in 1973.  He made the Yankees one of the winningest franchises in all of sports.  “The Boss” did what he had to do to win – it might not have always been pretty but show me a successful multi-million dollar corporation and I’ll show you a CEO or two that hurt some feelings along the way.

For better or worse, Steinbrenner brought attention to the game.

He took one of the world’s greatest brands and made it better.  He took an organization with the history of the New York Yankees and improved upon it.  Steinbrenner loved New York City and truly took pride in the Yankees within the city’s identity.

I know Steinbrenner wasn’t a boy scout, but remember – it’s called the Baseball Hall of Fame not a Morals Hall of Fame.

Ezra Shaw, Allsport

He had a felony conviction for illegal campaign contributions in 1973 and two suspensions from baseball - the second for paying a known gambler named Howie Spira to dig up dirt on Winfield.  But if we limited the Hall of Fame only to guys who were model citizens on and off the field, it would be a pretty empty Hall of Fame.

Look at some of the other executives who are in the Hall - they’re not squeeky clean either. 

Bill Veeck made a mockery of the game by sending a 3-foot-7 batter to the plate and held Disco Demolition Night in 1979 that basically ensighted a riot and actually caused the game to be forfeited.

Walter O’Malley took the Dodgers out of Brooklyn and moved them to Los Angeles.  Fans still haven’t forgiven him over 50 years later.

Steinbrenner might have been arrogant, narcissistic, tactless and sometimes heartless but he wanted to win.  And win he did.  He made the Yankees name one of the best brands in all of sports.  And for that, he should be put in the Hall of Fame.

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