Love him or hate him -- and it generally depends on whether you hail from Boston or New York -- there's no denying that George Steinbrenner left his mark on the sports and business worlds. The longtime owner of the New York Yankees, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 80, was a polarizing figure, sometimes even in his own town, and his aggressive spending and management style helped make him the face of the Bronx Bombers.
For 37 years, The Boss ruled the Yankees with an iron fist, hiring and firing managers more than 20 times, lashing out at his own team publicly in the press, even requiring players to be clean-shaven.
The shipping magnate paid a paltry $10 million for the team in 1973, and spent millions restoring baseball's most storied franchise to greatness, winning seven World Series titles and transforming the team into Major League Baseball's most valuable, now worth an estimated $1.6 billion. Among his accomplishments beyond championships -- a thriving broadcast empire and a lavish new Yankee Stadium that can be considered "The House That George Built." Players and fans alike paid tribute to Steinbrenner at last night's All-Star game.
When the team was winning, most fans loved him. But during the tough times, some felt The Boss, with his fiery and abrasive style, was a little too tough a boss. Then again, this is New York we're talking about.
So how will we remember the longest-tenured owner in baseball history? We asked our Board of Directors -- a group of pretty tough bosses themselves -- to help put his legacy in perspective.
Founder And CEO, The Go Daddy Group
"George Steinbrenner was a polarizing business man. Love him or hate him, he knew how to build and preserve a winning franchise. At the core of his success? Passion. He was opinionated, controversial, some would say 'ruthless.' For all the adjectives people will use to describe George Steinbrenner, I think he leaves behind a legacy of championships that demonstrate the power of passion in business and in life."
Tate ChalkFounder And CEO, Nfinity
"People never remember how you 'got there,' they will only remember that he was there. Through the lens of history, success is measured by how much you win, not how you won. The commentary will fade and Machiavelli will be proven right -- the end justifies means."
"He was a winner. He dramatically increased the value of the Yankees franchise and won numerous world championships.He may not have been liked by all, but he is certainly respected for his accomplishments. It will be interesting to see what happens when he becomes eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame. I vote yes."
Lawrence GelburdLecturer, The Wharton School
"Steinbrenner's business legacy is simple: A leader with an extremely combative style can be effective. But fear does motivate many employees."
Phil TownInvestor And Author Of Rule #1 And Payback Time
"We're always nicer to famous people after they are dead. He's going to be revered in the Big Apple."
Director, Texas Venture Labs at the University of Texas
"First of all, it was a life well-lead and full of accomplishment. I think his business legacy will be two-fold. First, he was a true entrepreneur, taking a losing franchise, turning it around over a number of decades, and building it into the leading franchise housed in a $1 billion-plus baseball stadium. He also really is the godfather of modern-day sports radio and television coverage. He hated to lose, made that contagious, micro-analyzed every aspect of the game, called out the players, MLB and umpires with aplomb and really birthed the non-stop CNN-style sports coverage that has become the norm."
The original version of this article appeared on AOL Small Business on 7/14/11.