In 1990 Yankee succession in crisis: George out, Hank not interested, Hal only 20 years old
- (NY Times): "With George Steinbrenner having to surrender day-to-day control of the Yankees next Monday, there are signs that
- the succession process is in disarray.
- The Yankee owner's 18 limited partners are scrambling for solutions even as they prepare to
- gather in Cleveland tomorrow to select a new general partner.
Many of the partners are convinced that Mr. Steinbrenner's choice as successor, his 33-year-old son Hank,
- will refuse the position.
''It's getting nastier and nastier as each day goes along,'' Edward Rosenthal, a partner, said yesterday. ''I don't think Hank wants to do it, and that's created monumental problems for George. And the timetable, with Aug. 20 approaching, is horrendous.'' As part of the agreement between George Steinbrenner and major league baseball announced July 30, Mr. Steinbrenner agreed to resign as the Yankees' general partner on or before Aug. 20.
- In another development, it was learned that lawyers for George Steinbrenner were prepared last week to accuse Fay Vincent, the baseball commissioner, of severely damaging Mr. Steinbrenner's reputation and business by misrepresenting the agreement that will end Mr. Steinbrenner's management of the Yankees.
A source close to the Steinbrenner camp pictured him as desperately concerned about repercussions that
- might hinder his ability to get government contracts for his company, the American Ship Building Company, and
- affect his position as a vice president of the United States Olympic Committee.
The fear that the Yankees will be rudderless by next week led one limited partner to ask major league baseball to consider allowing a temporary caretaker, an overture under consideration by the commissioner's office.
- There are also signs that other partners are seeking a more permanent solution, should Hank Steinbrenner refuse to serve. These partners are said to be looking within their own ranks, most notably at Marvin Gold-klang, a lawyer, banker and owner of three minor-league teams.
Some partners are also reportedly mulling whether to seek a joint management team, which could include Mr. Goldklang and two other partners, Barry Halper and Daniel M. Crown.
Mr. Goldklang, when reached at his New York office, declined to comment about any possible move by him into the general partner's role. Mr. Halper, owner of a paper-products company and a neighbor of Mr. Goldklang in Livingston, N.J., declined to be interviewed. Also unavailable for comment was
- Mr. Crown, a Chicago industrialist who, along with his father and brother, owns 10 to 12 percent of the Yankees,
George and Hank Steinbrenner have declined to comment on any aspect of the succession.
Mr. Rosenthal, a Cleveland steel executive and a supporter of George Steinbrenner, also indicated that the partners had not had any direct signals from George Steinbrenner since late last week.
- Still, the partners do know this: Mr. Vincent is prepared to enforce the July 30 agreement, signed by George Steinbrenner. That agreement effectively removes Mr. Steinbrenner from the day-to-day operations of the team.
The agreement was the result of Mr. Vincent's investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Steinbrenner's payment of $40,000 to Howard Spira, a known gambler. Mr. Vincent ruled that Mr. Steinbrenner's payment, which Mr. Spira said was made in return for detrimental information about the former Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield, was not in the best interests of baseball....
Main Interest Elsewhere
The cause of all the concern is Hank Steinbrenner, who is pictured increasingly as the reluctant heir. After a brief tenure with the Yankees in 1986, Hank made it known that he
- would rather work in the family's horse-breeding operation than with the baseball club. Ever since his father nominated him for the general-partner position on July 31, some among the limited partners have
- questioned whether Hank would want to give up his residence in Florida to return to New York.
- ''I really think that Hank is out,'' Mrs. Witkind said.
''I think Hank wants to be out. I talked to George, and he said if Hank doesn't want it, he isn't going to push it. I don't think he's going to twist the kid's arm.'' Rosenthal said he sympathized with the father. ''I would want my son,'' he said. ''I don't see how he could feel any other way. Leave destiny to an outsider, a stranger? Not me.''
- But Rosenthal added that if Hank did not want the post, ''George's back is up against the wall; I think he's got a lot of problems from this.'' ...
It was already doubtful that any candidate could be approved by the partners and then by baseball by next Monday under any circumstances. Any nominee would have to clear three major hurdles: Approval by the commissioner, approval by the Yankees' limited partners, and approval by the other club owners.
- Mr. Vincent has said that he would not oppose Hank Steinbrenner as a successor to his father, and Mr. Rosenthal said yesterday that a straw vote of the limited partners indicated that Hank would get 80 percent support. He would only need two-thirds support.
But it was clear from the outset that Hank Steinbrenner was in for rigorous inquiry from the other owners....
- Such league votes are not even expected to take place at the next joint session of owners, schedule for mid-September, because the committee's recommendation most likely will not be ready,