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George Steinbrenner

The Yankees' New Owner

In 1973, Steinbrenner entered into the business venture for which he was to become best known. That year, he became head of a group of 17 investors that bought the New York Yankees from the CBS television and radio network. At the time, the team was down on its luck, not having made it to a World Series game since 1964. The sale was reported at $10 million. By 2002, the team was said to be worth $730 million. Kaufman called the mere $10 million Steinbrenner paid for the Yankees "astonishing," especially considering that the City of New York foot the bill for a more than $1 million parking lot to go with it, making Steinbrenner's effective purchase price even lower.

Steinbrenner has admitted that he has been tempted to sell the team to realize the enormous profit. "But," he told Kaufman, "athletics are in my blood, and being a successful team owner gives you prestige you can't get anywhere else."

At the time of the Yankees deal, Steinbrenner was an unknown businessman from the Midwest, so nervous at meeting the legendary chairman of CBS, William Paley, that he could hardly eat breakfast that morning. The two met in Paley's office, and verbally agreed on the deal. Steinbrenner spoke at a press conference soon after and promised to end the Yankees' losing streak within four years.

Related Biography: Television Executive William Paley

Called by Patricia Hluchy of Maclean's the "unrivalled godfather of American Broadcasting," William Paley is the CBS chairman from whom Steinbrenner bought the New York Yankees in 1973. Paley is credited with building CBS from what was a group of 22 struggling radio stations when he bought the company in 1929, into a vast empire that helped to usher in the era of television. He retained control of his company until his death in 1990 at the age of 89.

William Paley was born in Chicago in 1901. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant and a prosperous cigar merchant. Paley became vice president of his father's company in 1922, and he became interested in broadcasting when his company purchased advertising time on a radio station. The station was part of the United Independent Broadcasters Network, and Paley later bought that company, later known as CBS, for $400,000.

Paley was among the first to recognize the potential of the medium of television, and his company first began regular television broadcasts in 1939, by 1950 becoming the leading American broadcaster.

CBS bought an 80 percent stake in the Yankees in 1964, and later bought the remaining 20 percent. The company paid $13.2 million for the Yankees—$3.2 million more than Steinbrenner was to later pay for the team.

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Famous Sports StarsBaseballGeorge Steinbrenner Biography - Born On The Fourth Of July, Chronology, A Career In Athletics, Success In Business