Room for The Boss in the hallowed Hall?
Jeter, Girardi, Rivera consider enshrinement a no-brainer
NEW YORK -- It may not exactly be unbiased coming from members of the Yankees organization, but the question of enshrining George Steinbrenner in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, is, as captain Derek Jeter put it, "a no-brainer for me.""It's important to all of us," Steinbrenner's son and Yankees managing general partner, Hal, told MLB.com earlier this week about the principal owner, who will be 80 on July 4, entering the hallowed Hall. "I don't get into the intricacies of how this works, but there's no doubt in my mind he belongs there, and most of the people I talk to agree. It would be an unbelievable honor for him and the entire family." The elder Steinbrenner, who purchased the team from CBS in 1973, is eligible as an executive 65 years or older, according to Brad Horn, a spokesman for the Hall in Cooperstown, N.Y. Steinbrenner could be considered and voted upon by the 12-member Veterans Committee evaluating executives and pioneers, which meets every two years and will next convene at baseball's Winter Meetings in 2011. But first the committee must put Steinbrenner on the 10-person ballot, which it has not done thus far. The committee is made up of two Hall of Fame players, three members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America and seven baseball executives. As does any candidate for the Hall, an executive needs 75 percent of the vote, or in this case, seven of the 12 votes, to get in. Last year, this particular committee didn't elect anyone. For 2010, former All-Star outfielder Andre Dawson was elected by the BBWAA, and manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey were elected by the committee that oversees those positions. (There are currently four separate Veterans Committees.) The three will be inducted on July 25. According to Jeter, there's no choice.
"The Boss" belongs "because of what he's meant to the game," Jeter said. "He's been the best owner in all of sports. Where he's taken this team from and where it is now ... He's been a winner. When you think of the Yankees, the first name that comes to mind is George Steinbrenner. When do you want me to stop?""He definitely deserves it," said Mariano Rivera, who joined Jeter on the Yankees' roster for good in late 1995. "Not too many owners have done what he has for their team." Under Steinbrenner's watch, the Yankees have been wildly successful, winning seven of their 27 World Series titles and 11 of their 40 American League pennants. He has invested huge capital in the team, and come under some criticism from his own contemporaries for doing so. On the downside, he was suspended twice by two commissioners for acts deemed detrimental to baseball. But the team has been in the hands of the Steinbrenner family for 37 years, the longest tenure by far of any current ownership group in Major League Baseball, coming at a time when franchises seem to be shifting like so much loose change. No current single owner can boast the Steinbrenners' success. The four other franchises in the AL East, for example, have combined to win the World Series six times during the Steinbrenner era.
And as Hal Steinbrenner said, "We're not planning on going anywhere. We're here.""George was a game changer," said Joe Girardi, who played for the Yankees from 1996-99 and is in his third season as manager. "He's meant a lot to the game, and he's meant a lot to the city. He still has the fire for winning, I can tell you that. I hope it happens. For whatever my voice counts, I would push for it." The Hall of Fame doesn't have a long history of honoring executives. Only 30 have been enshrined, including four commissioners -- Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Happy Chandler, Ford Frick and Bowie Kuhn. Two Yankees executives from bygone years have made the grade: general managers Ed Barrow and George Weiss. The short list of owners includes Charles Comiskey, Barney Dreyfus, Clark Griffith, Walter O'Malley, Bill Veeck and Tom Yawkey. O'Malley, the Brooklyn Dodgers owner who raised the ire of a city when he moved the team to Los Angeles, was the last owner to be elected by the Veterans Committee, in 2008, the first year that board voted as currently constituted. "The Boss " is considered to be retired, Hal said, with the family making the day-to-day decisions. "We still run everything by him," Hal said. "In a way, though, he has retired, because his managing general partner title has been transferred, legally and in the eyes of MLB. After 37 years, I can't believe that anybody would object [to him going into the Hall], but then again, I don't know. I'm not involved. But it certainly would be an honor."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.