George Steinbrenner missed out on getting elected to the Baseball...

George Steinbrenner missed out on getting elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Credit: AP

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jerry Reinsdorf spoke carefully.

The longtime owner of the Chicago White Sox and Bulls, a member of the 16-man expansion era committee, said that "on balance," George Steinbrenner was good for baseball.

But Hall of Fame-good?

"I can't answer that question," the 77-year-old Reinsdorf said in an interview after Monday's voting results, which put managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa in the Hall, were announced. "He was thoroughly discussed and the committee failed to vote him in. That's all I can say."

Steinbrenner came up short, as was the case three years ago, when he first appeared on the ballot. Three years ago, The Boss, who died July 13, 2010, received fewer than eight votes; this year, he was among a group of candidates who attained six or fewer. Twelve votes were required for induction. The Hall of Fame did not release final vote totals, other than to say the managers who were selected all were unanimous.

Steinbrenner's Hall credentials are obvious, as are his shortcomings. He pumped life into a comatose Yankees franchise after buying it Jan. 3, 1973. Under his watch, the club won seven world championships and 11 American League pennants.

But Steinbrenner also was a polarizing figure, to put it mildly. He was suspended twice and helped raise ballplayer salaries by becoming the first owner to embrace free agency. The latter wasn't a bad thing from the perspective of the Players Association, but it made him a pariah among some owners.

For his part, Torre said Steinbrenner "changed my life" by hiring him to manage the Yankees for the 1996 season.

Torre said he believes Steinbrenner belongs in the Hall of Fame and eventually will get that honor.

"I've seen so many other owners try to emulate what he was, and they never lived up to it," Torre said. "He was so devoted to his team. He was tough, but he just wanted to win. He felt he owed it to the city."

Reinsdorf said Steinbrenner's impact on the sport was good and bad, but he focused on the positives.

"In some ways, the sport was better, in some ways it wasn't," Reinsdorf said. "I think you can say that about anybody. I think on balance, George was good for the sport."

With David Lennon

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