The Yankees, America’s most famous sports franchise, like Manchester United if they were in London, had fallen on hard times in the mid-1960s. At the bottom of NYC’s fortunes, Steinbrenner bought the Yankees and invested heavily in these new-fangled free agents like Reggie Jackson.
But unlike most team owners of the times, he battled constantly with his players and managers, especially Billy Martin whom he fired five times. Virtually every week seemed like a crisis if you were reading the sports pages. From 1975-1989, Steinbrenner changed managers 18 times, winning two World Series. Eventually, Steinbrenner slowed down and let Joe Torre win four World Series for him.
If you want to understand Trump, look at his early relationship with the man he has called his best friendEspecially if you are George Costanza.
On February 8, 1984, a few of the most prominent businessmen in New York — members of the New York State Urban Development Corporation — were holding a news conference.
Among them was a press darling — a man whose brash reputation and penchant for public tirades had made him one of the city’s most recognizable figures.
His rise to prominence a decade earlier sprung from his purchase of a major New York institution. He was tall, an imposing figure with his hair just long enough to be swept flat behind his ears. He often bellowed, “You’re fired!,” a connotation embraced by households across the country.
Standing nearby at that news conference was Donald Trump.
The man he was watching was George Steinbrenner, the owner of the New York Yankees. Known simply as “The Boss,” Steinbrenner is the man Trump has called his best friend.
Trump doesn’t toss around such a label frequently, at least in the press. But in Steinbrenner, the famed, bombastic owner, Trump saw a role model. …
Ray Negron, a Yankees employee for more than 40 years who serves as a columnist for Newsmax, told Business Insider that Steinbrenner was a “very strong mentor” to Trump. …
“And he looked at Steinbrenner as a big brother, as a hero, and you know he don’t look at anybody that way,” Negron continued. “They were both the same.”
… “Throughout the years he always called Mr. Steinbrenner … in any type of scenario. He would always checked in on him, and ‘The Boss’ always gave him what he thought was the right advice.”…
He made note that Trump borrowed his trademark phrase for his NBC show, “The Apprentice,” from Steinbrenner, who first popularized “you’re fired” in his years-long, love-hate relationship with manager Billy Martin, whom Steinbrenner hired and fired a total of five times.
Trump “borrowed that from the great George Steinbrenner, and people forget that,” Negron said. “I even used to ask ‘The Boss’ if he got upset with that and he said, ‘Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.’”
A controversial figure in his own right, Steinbrenner found himself in trouble at various points of his career. There were the illegal campaign contributions to President Richard Nixon. Years later, he paid to have dirt dug up on a star Yankees player, Dave Winfield. At both points, he served suspensions from Major League Baseball. In the first, he pleaded guilty to criminal charges for which he was later pardoned by President Ronald Reagan.
And Steinbrenner, as evidenced by his tumultuous relationship with Martin, was known to be an extremely tough person to work for.
Anyway, my point is that the Trump White House is very much like Steinbrenner’s Yankees: every day seems like a crisis. To a Los Angeles Dodgers fan like myself who was used to the Dodgers having two managers (Walter Alston and Tom Lasorda) over 45 years and an announcer, Vin Scully, for 67 years, the Yankee revolving door soap opera always seemed like it couldn’t possibly go on a day longer.
But … the Steinbrenner Saga did just keep going on and on for many years.
In the very long run, Steinbrenner was quite successful. Today, baseball is wildly popular in New York City, which is very good for the game nationally.