Klapisch: Steinbrenner Almost Sold Yankees To Dolan

Bob Klapisch dropped by The DA Show to discuss his new book – and share some stunning facts about the Yankees

The DA Show
March 26, 2019 - 11:18 am

Longtime baseball writer Bob Klapisch dropped by The DA Show on Tuesday to discuss his new book, “Inside the Empire: The True Power Behind the New York Yankees,” which pulls back the curtain on one of the most iconic franchises in sports.

While the Yankees are synonymous with George Steinbrenner and winning, they could have become synonymous with…James Dolan?

It’s true.

“George wanted to sell the team, and he wanted to move the team out of the Bronx,” Klapisch said on The DA Show. “That’s such a little-reported fact. It’s such a crazy little nugget and asterisk in Yankee history. Had it been successful, not only was Dolan going to own the Yankees, George was going to be the chief operating officer. He was basically going to be the point man for not just the Yankees – he was going to keep 20 percent of the Yankees – but he was going to be out front running the Yankees, the Knicks, and the Rangers. Think about that – what a domineering figure he would have been.

“But he would have answered to Dolan,” Klapisch continued. “He would have answered to Jim Dolan. I don’t know if that marriage could have lasted very long, honestly. Fortunately for the Yankees, Jim Dolan didn’t want the deal. He passed on it. He just didn’t want to do it. But it is an amazing scenario – sort of like an alternate universe – that came very close to unfolding.” 

The Yankees also came close to – believe it or not – leaving the Bronx. That wouldn’t have been Dolan’s doing, either; it would have been Steinbrenner’s.

“He just thought it was an undeveloped area and it was unsafe for fans to come to and it was just that the Yankees needed a more glamorous setting,” Klapisch said, explaining Steinbrenner’s rationale. “They were now a prestigious organization in a way they had never been before. They were now a celebrity team. Tourists wanted to come to New York. It wasn’t just Yankees fans filling the ballpark as New York had this resurgence in the 2000s, and George wanted something more dignified. He wanted an upgrade. He wanted a more glamorous venue for his team.”

Yankees President Randy Levine, however, convinced Steinbrenner to keep the franchise in the Bronx, explaining that fans would never forgive him if he moved the team.

Steinbrenner agreed to stay, provided that Levine got him a new stadium.

So he did, in 2009.

“They built up the neighborhood, they built up the train station, the subway – everything about the stadium has been refurbished, and it is a beautiful location now,” Klapisch said. “But that was not George’s intent. It took Randy Levine’s muscle to redirect George and turn the stadium into what it is today.”