Growing up in New York City, there were certain figures that were always identified with The Big Apple. Woody Allen, Donald Trump, Regis Philbin, and George Steinbrenner were iconic figures in New York, and names that I grew up with.

Sadly for New York and baseball, one of its iconic figures passed away yesterday. George Steinbrenner, the owner of the New York Yankees since 1973, passed away at the age of 80 due to a heart attack. He passed away at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa.

Everyone who reads my posts and knows me knows that I am not even remotely close to being a Yankee fan. I haven’t liked the Yankees since my childhood friend David and I used to argue who was a better player, Dave Winfield or George Brett. As you could imagine, I was on the Brett side.

But despite not liking certain teams, it doesn’t mean that I can’t respect the players on that team or the owner of the franchise. In this case, I have always had the utmost respect for Steinbrenner.

I am not going to get into whether or not he is the greatest owner in the history of sports, or whether or not he was good or bad for baseball. That is a debate which I choose not to get into.

What is not up for debate is that when it came to the business aspect of baseball, Steinbrenner was ahead of his time by at least 15 years. He bought the Yankees for $8.8 million in 1973, and between his marketing efforts, cable deal with the Madison Square Garden TV station, and creating the YES Network, Steinbrenner turned the Yankees into a $1.6 billion empire.

That is a business plan that any executive would follow.

Steinbrenner and the Yankees were even ahead of their time when they joined forces with the Dallas Cowboys and Goldman Sachs to form Legends Hospitality Management. The only thing that could make this partnership more obnoxious is if the Cowboys and Yankees included Notre Dame and the Lakers into the mix.

But in all seriousness, this idea should have been created years ago. Why pay a third party for food and catering when you just do it yourself and generate and, more importantly, keep the revenues? It’s a brilliant business decision and Steinbrenner was at the forefront of it.

Whether you love or hate the Yankees, there is one thing that you have to admit—Steinbrenner changed the landscape of baseball and the game will never be the same again.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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