LAS VEGAS -- It’s another Hall of Fame loss for The Boss.
George Steinbrenner, who left an indelible imprint on baseball during his title-chasing run as the Yankees’ owner, was denied entrance to Cooperstown for a fourth time Sunday by the Today’s Game Era Committee, which elected Harold Baines and Lee Smith from this year’s 10-person ballot.
Steinbrenner’s on-field resume certainly appears worthy. The Yankees won seven World Series titles and 11 American League pennants under his stewardship, and he revived the sport’s Tiffany franchise after purchasing the depressed organization in 1973. But his combative, free-spending fervor frequently made waves throughout baseball and often created chaos in the Bronx as well.
Steinbrenner, who died in 2010, was suspended twice from the sport, and as polarizing as The Boss was during his tumultuous reign, apparently his legacy continues to be measured that way when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Steinbrenner again received fewer than five votes -- the exact count isn’t revealed when it falls below that threshold -- and 75 percent (12 of 16) is required for induction.
The Today’s Game Era Committee was composed of Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Pat Gillick, Tony La Russa, Greg Maddux, Joe Morgan, John Schuerholz, Ozzie Smith and Joe Torre; MLB executives Al Avila, Paul Beeston, Andy MacPhail and Jerry Reinsdorf, and media members Steve Hirdt, Tim Kurkjian and Claire Smith.
Last month, Brian Cashman repeated his belief that Steinbrenner should be in Cooperstown, but he also understood the undercurrent of opposition to his candidacy.
“There’s some powerful people that view it differently, I’m sure,” Cashman said then. “But again, he was a transformative figure in this sport, sometimes in a very good way and sometimes in a very difficult way. But the bottom line was he was very impactful both for this franchise and this industry and clearly a Hall of Famer from my viewpoint.”
Steinbrenner, who rankled fellow owners by impulsively collecting high-priced talent, certainly made his share of enemies -- not unlike former union chief Marvin Miller, who also has been kept out of Cooperstown despite helping to revolutionize the salary structure for players through free agency.
The Today’s Game Era Committee was in charge of reviewing candidates “whose contributions to the game were most significant from 1988 through the present.”
Smith was a seven-time All-Star and his 478 saves rank third on the all-time list behind Mariano Rivera (652) and Trevor Hoffman (601). Baines, a six-time All-Star, fell short of the more traditional Hall of Fame benchmarks but still finished with 2,866 hits and 384 home runs in his 22 seasons.
Smith was a unanimous selection, earning all 16 votes from the committee, and Baines received the mandated 12. Next was Lou Piniella, who had 11. Along with Steinbrenner, the group that received fewer than five votes included Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershisher, Davey Johnson and Charlie Manuel.