The New York Yankees are not for sale. To get in the position to own a sports team in the first place, you tend to be in the billionaire club already. For the Steinbrenner family, the Yankees are the business. Even with this limited scope, compared to peers, they are one of the richest families in the world.
Let’s explore how the New York Yankees made the Steinbrenner family so very rich and why there’s about a 0.000% chance the family sells the team anytime soon.
How the Steinbrenners bought the Yankees
The Yankees have been around in some form since 1902, with much of their existence before the Steinbrenner era. When George Steinbrenner bought the team in 1972, it was an uneasy moment for the franchise.
Steinbrenner was the patriarch of a family of shipbuilders from Cleveland. Their wealth was regional but immense — not exactly on the level of the Manhattan real-estate elites who should’ve been in a better position to scoop up the franchise from the then-owner CBS.
Steinbrenner initially spearheaded a group to buy the Cleveland Indians but was spurned at the last minute in favor of another buyer. The new bid wasn’t much higher, but Steinbrenner’s group didn’t get a chance to respond. The situation infuriated him.
He put out feelers for other MLB teams for sale, sniffing out CBS’s interest in simplifying their business by divesting from baseball ownership. For just $10 million dollars, the cranky Clevelander bought America’s Baseball Team.
Steinbrenner promised to stick to his expertise on the business end, and leave baseball operations “to the baseball guys.” Fat chance of that!
The era of George ‘The Boss’ Steinbrenner
Steinbrenner wasn’t referred to internally as “The Boss” for ironic reasons. He was a mercurial presence, sometimes swooping in out of the blue to fire staff, managers, and even players.
His 37-year run as the New York Yankees principal owner matched his fluctuating temperament. Eras of World Series success and getting their hands on the best players in baseball would peter out into baffling under-performance.
Famously, Steinbrenner fired manager Billy Martin five times. This only made up a quarter of Steinbrenner’s managerial changes. With his aggressive style, both personally and professionally, he wielded the full power of his lucrative franchise, signing players at absurd salaries no other team could match.
By the time Steinbrenner died in 2010, his $10 million investment was worth $1.6 billion dollars. Whatever one could say about his boisterous personality, he was objectively successful in a monetary sense.
Successor Hal Steinbrenner’s new take for the Yankees
The first thing Yankees fans noticed when son Harold Steinbrenner took the reins from his father George was his even temperament. This read as weakness to many. In truth, simply a different kind of personality. Harold, known as Hal, runs the team differently from George in every way.
Hal’s first big move was following through on George’s longtime desire to build a new stadium. Breaking ground in 2006, the new building opened in 2009, a year before George died.
Hal also pivoted from his father’s habit of handing the biggest checks to the best free agents. He isn’t afraid to spend money to shore up the team’s postseason chances — this is still the Yankees, after all. But the current team includes a charismatic core of young players who grew up in the Yankees’ system.
Hal is slowly but surely turning the Yankees into a different kind of organization — one that even longtime detractors admit is fun to watch play. Since George’s son took over, the team’s value has jumped to $3.8 billion. Sports isn’t a side project for the Steinbrenners, and it shows.