George Steinbrenner grew up a fan of the Cleveland Indians and had a chance to buy the team before he made the deal for the Yankees.
In 1970, Steinbrenner led a group of investors to buy the Indians from Vernon Stouffer, cofounder of Stouffer’s foods and Stouffer hotels. Stouffer's son, Jim, had been a friend of Steinbrenner since childhood. The deal was said to be $8.6 to $9 million in cash. But the elder Stouffer had issues with Steinbrenner, according to Peter Golenbock's book ``George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built the Yankee Empire.''
The book quoted Gabe Paul's take on the failed sale:
“We were all in George’s office. He called Vernon in Scottsdale, where he had a home. There had been a leak in the press, which I think upset Vernon. When George called, Vernon was very noncommittal. He said, ‘Ah, I’m not going to take a deal like that.’ Vernon just didn’t want it. It was a shock, because of the way it had been structured. Jim [Vernon's son] had set the price. After George hung up, there was no discussion. The deal was off. Vernon was so definite. George was surprised. You must remember there was a family relationship there, different from most deals. It would have been a great deal for Vernon, a decent amount of cash. I don’t know. I think he was irked by the leak in the press. I just think they talked to Vernon at the wrong time of day.”
Steinbrenner was later quoted as saying ``We would have done the same with the Indians (as the Yankees),'' had the deal gone through.