A Photo Slideshow
|Steinbrenner Through the Years |
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Colorful personalities have a way of finding their way to the executive suite, but New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner set the bar. Steinbrenner passed away on Tuesday morning after suffering a massive heart attack. He purchased the Yankees on January 3, 1973, from CBS for close to $8.8 million and built the team into a baseball empire reportedly valued at more than $1 billion, winning seven World Series championship titles under his ownership in the process. But it's how Steinbrenner built that empire that might be his ultimate legacy -- earning a reputation for his autocratic and often combative management style. The Boss, as he came to be known, was unafraid of criticizing his players and managers and was zealous in his efforts to do whatever he thought would help the Yankees win. In 1974, one year after Steinbrenner bought the Yankees, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended Steinbrenner for two years for making illegal contributions to President Richard Nixon's political campaign re-election committee. Although he was able to return to the franchise in 1976, he wasn't pardoned until 1989 by President Ronald Reagan.
Steinbrenner was anything but shy about shaking up his own ranks. He replaced his managers 20 times in the first 23 years that he owned the club. Most famously, between 1975 and 1988, he fired and hired manager Billy Martin five times. In 1980, Steinbrenner offered San Diego Padres outfielder Dave Winfield a 10-year contract worth up to $25 million, the biggest salary in baseball at the time. Since the Winfield contract, the Yankees have had the highest payroll in the Major Leagues. Steinbrenner looked to Winfield to lead the Yankees to another ring, but the investment fell flat. In the 10 years Winfield played for Steinbrenner, the Yankees had one of their longest winning droughts in history and did not win a single World Series title. In 1990 Winfield sued Steinbrenner for failing to pay $300,000 to his charity. In response, Steinbrenner paid a gambler $40,000 to dig up some "dirt" on Winfeild. When Commissioner Fay Vincent found out, he banned Steinbrenner from baseball for three years. This ruthless style of management is not specific to Steinbrenner. To varying degrees, other famous chief executives and owners have adhered to the Sterinbrenner prototype. TheStreet wants to know what company CEO do you think is most like Steinbrenner.
Jack Welch became the youngest CEO of General Electric ( GE) in 1981, and was known for his aggressive marketing skills. His tenacity paid off. In 2000, GE's recorded revenues reached nearly $130 billion, an improvement from the $26.8 billion in revenues the company reported in 1980 before Welch became CEO. In 1999, Fortune named Welch the "Manager of the Century." Carol Bartz, famous for her "bold" style, became the CEO of Yahoo ( YHOO) in 2009 after stepping down from the top spot at Autodesk ( ADSK). In a recent interview, Bartz told TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington to f*** off, and in a blog post she said that readers should "look for this company's brand to kick ass again." Since she took over Yahoo shares have risen almost 20%. Tony Hayward was appointed the CEO of BP ( BP) in May 2007. While the recent BP oil spill catastrophe has overshadowed all other aspects of Hayward's style, he was known for a blunt and up-front leadership style, accompanied by a willingness to openly criticize his own company. That big mouth, of course, might prove to be his undoing. Mel Karmazin became the CEO of the satellite radio company Sirius XM ( SIRI) in 2004, after turns as president of several big name companies, including CBS and Viacom. Karmazin made a name for himself through a hardnosed dealmaking style and a willingnewss to employ ruthless tactics to get his way and close deals. General Motors CEO Edward Whitacre got his start at Southwestern Bell Telephone in 1963 as a facility engineer. By 1990 Whitacre worked his way up the ranks and became the company's CEO. As the president of SBC Communication Whitacre earned a tough reputation through his controlling and imposing takeover of AT&T ( T) in 2005. Whitacre was named the CEO of General Motors in December 2009. So...which of those CEOs do you think most resembles Steinbrenner? Take our poll to see what TheStreet thinks -- and if you think you have a better comparison, feel free to leave a comment with your write-in pick.
-- Reported by Theresa McCabe in Boston. Follow Theresa McCabe on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.