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Sports Then and Now



45 Years Ago: The Billy Martin-New York Yankees Saga Begins 0

Posted on August 01, 2020 by Dean Hybl

Regardless of whether you love or hate the New York Yankees, you couldn’t help but follow the 14-year saga of Billy Martin, George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees. Like a car accident, you just had to slow down and see what was happening.

Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner during one of the lighter moments during their 14-year relationship.

It all started 45 years ago when it was announced on August 1, 1975 that manager Bill Virdon was being replaced by the already flamboyant and controversial Billy Martin. Though owner George Steinbrenner was technically suspended by MLB at the time for making illegal campaign contributions to the campaign of President Richard Nixon in 1972, he was in reality still the top decision maker for the organization and believed that Martin would provide a fire that was lacking under Virdon.

Martin was familiar to Yankee fans from his time as part of Casey Stengel’s squad during the hey day of the 1950s. During seven seasons as an infielder with the Yankees, the scrappy Martin won four World Series rings and made one All-Star team, but was perhaps better known as a party partner for all-time great Mickey Mantle.

Many believe that it was his negative influence on Mantle that led to the Yankees trading Martin to the Kansas City Athletics during the 1957 season. He later played for the Tigers, Indians, Reds and Twins before retiring following the 1961 season.

He became a major league manager at the age of 41 in 1969 with the Minnesota Twins. He led the Twins to 97 wins and the first AL West Division title. However, the Twins lost to the Baltimore Orioles in the playoffs and a number of disagreements with management and off the field issues ultimately led to his dismissal following the season.

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George Steinbrenner Changed The Role Of Sports Owners 1

Posted on July 22, 2010 by Kevin Freiheit

George Steinbrenner changed the role of ownership across all sports.

As a Boston Red Sox fan, I have never been fond of the New York Yankees Organization. Growing up in Buffalo, NY, I was surrounded by Yankees fans all the time.

Before I even began to get interested in baseball, my good friend, Frank Bundy, brain washed me into becoming a Sox fan.

I’ve always been sick of the Yankees winning.

After all, the Yankees 2010 payroll is over $206 million, so shouldn’t they be winning the World Series every year? That’s over $40 million more than any other team.

But when I heard the news that George Steinbrenner passed away, being a Red Sox fan didn’t matter.

It was immediately a sad day for baseball fans and beyond. What George Steinbrenner had accomplished and done within the Yankees organization can only be looked at with appreciation and respect.

The death of Steinbrenner is a huge loss, not only for Major League Baseball, but for all of sports. Steinbrenner built the Yankees empire, and was willing to win, no matter what the cost.

In his 37 years as owner, Steinbrenner led the Yankees to seven World Series Championships, 11 American League Pennants, and 16 Division Titles. Read the rest of this entry →

George Steinbrenner Dead at Age 80 1

Posted on July 13, 2010 by Don Spieles

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones.
And so it is with…

George Steinbrenner passed away on Tuesday morning in Tampa, Florida, after suffering a massive heart attack, ESPN is reporting. The bombastic and often boorish owner of the New York Yankees had recently turned the reins of the franchise over to his sons and had been in failing health the last few years, preventing him from making more than a few appearances at Yankee Stadium.

Steinbrenner passes away with the true love and admiration of the Yankee fan base. It must be said, in all fairness, that George Steinbrenner did everything within his power to make the Yankees winners during his tenure. No other owner in any sport has exhibited the fervor, an almost psychotic obsession with excellence, much less delivered on the premise. He took perhaps the most famous franchise in sports history and actually made it exponentially bigger and better. His $10 million investment in 1973 is now worth over $1.3 billion!

2 May 1997: New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner watches pensively at the 123rd Kentucky Derky at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

"The Boss", circa 1997.

As with so many great leaders of men, Steinbrenner’s success was not without its negative side. When you mention “The New York Yankees”, people think domination, 27 World Series titles, dynasties, and pinstripes. On the other hand, when you say “George Steinbrenner”, most people conjure up very different images. Public rants and fights with managers. Involvement with shady business characters. There were suspensions by the league and, most prevalent in the memories of baseball fans, it was George Steinbrenner who ushered in free agency, turning baseball into something very different than it had been up to that point. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

      Read more »

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