STEINBRENNER, GEORGE M. III (4 July 1930-13 July 2010) was a shipping magnate and owner of sports teams, most famously, the New York Yankees.
Steinbrenner grew up in BAY VILLAGE, the son of Henry and Rita Steinbrenner. His father was a celebrated track star at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and ran Kinsman Marine Transit in Lorain, which the family had established generations earlier. The younger Steinbrenner attended Culver Military Academy in Indiana, his father’s alma mater. After graduating from Williams College, he spent two years in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. He returned to Ohio and got his master’s degree in physical education at Ohio State University, serving as a graduate assistant for football coach Woody Hayes. Steinbrenner also served as an assistant football coach at Purdue University and Northwestern University.
In 1961, Steinbrenner bought the CLEVELAND PIPERS, a basketball team in the Industrial Basketball League. The team joined the National Basketball League, and was poised to join the NBA, but the team and the league folded.
Ultimately, Steinbrenner bought Kinsman from his family, and in 1967, bought American Shipbuilding. (In 1983, he moved the company to Tampa, his adopted hometown.) Steinbrenner also was part owner of Northfield Park and owned several thoroughbred racehorses. In 1972, he bought 7 percent of the Chicago Bulls, which he sold in 1985.
In 1972, Steinbrenner was part of a partnership that tried to buy the Indians from owner VERNON STOUFFER. The deal fell through, but Steinbrenner bought the New York Yankees from CBS the following year, famously saying, “I won’t be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all.” His 37 years as general partner were the longest in team history – even if they were occasionally interrupted by suspension.
Steinbrenner was suspended by Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in 1974 for actions detrimental to baseball, namely making an illegal campaign contribution to Richard Nixon in 1972. (His criminal past later led Yankees manager Billy Martin to say of him and Reggie Jackson, “One’s a born liar and the other’s convicted.”) Steinbrenner’s suspension was for two years, but was lifted after 15 months. Steinbrenner was pardoned by Ronald Reagan in one of his last acts in office in 1989. Steinbrenner was suspended again, in 1990, by Commissioner Fay Vincent for hiring a gambler to find blackmail material on superstar Dave Winfield. Steinbrenner was later reinstated from that suspension as well. He was also fined $250,000 for his remarks following the infamous “Pine Tar” game between the Yankees and Royals in 1983.
Steinbrenner maintained ownership of the team until his death, but retired in 2007, passing control to his sons Hal and Hank. Under his ownership, the Yankees won seven World Series, and in 2011, a statue of him was put up in front of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
He married his wife, the former Joan Zieg of Columbus, on May 12, 1956. She died Dec. 14, 2018. They had two sons, Hal and Hank, and two daughters, Jennifer and Jessica. He is buried at Trinity Memorial Gardens in Florida.