Steinbrenner Rule Put Wall Streets Goldklang on Baseball Path
2010-08-11 04:00:01.0 GMT
By Mason Levinson
Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) -- George Steinbrenner had a plaque in
his office that read: Lead, follow or get the hell out of the
The motto, attributed to founding father Thomas Paine and
popularized by U.S. Army General George Patton, provided an
example of the bravado of the longtime New York Yankees owner
and a business lesson for one of his limited partners in the
baseball team, Marvin Goldklang.
Goldklang, 68, invested in the Yankees in 1979 while a
partner at the Wall Street law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP.
He stepped down in 1983 after turning 40 and has since built his
own career as a baseball owner. The Goldklang Group -- whose
partners include actor Bill Murray and baseball promoter Mike
Veeck -- owns four minor-league franchises: the St. Paul Saints
in Minnesota, Charleston RiverDogs in South Carolina, Hudson
Valley Renegades in New York and Fort Myers Miracle in Florida.
I woke up one morning and just decided there were other
things I wanted to do in life, Goldklang said. Being a
partner of a major Wall Street firm didnt afford me the
flexibility I needed, so I left.
His involvement in minor-league baseball ownership began
while at the law firm, when he was asked by a club owner in
Utica, New York, to help find financing for the teams ballpark.
His response was that his lawyer fees would be more than the
client was looking to borrow -- so Goldklang offered to put up
the money himself for an ownership stake, with the condition
that he also be signed to a contract to pitch one game.
Pitched at Penn
I had a monumentally unimpressive pitching career at
Penn, the right-hander said in an interview from his office in
Florham Park, New Jersey.
Goldklang is a 1963 graduate of the University of
Pennsylvanias Wharton School in Philadelphia, setting what he
believes to be a school record by hitting four batters in an
inning. He also earned a degree from Penn Law and a Masters of
Laws from New York University. Goldklang missed pitching that
game in Utica because of business travel.
The life-long Yankees fan from Bayonne, New Jersey, already
had a piece of the Major League Baseball team that he and a
friend bought from John McMullen, who sold his shares after
becoming the Houston Astros owner. Goldklang said his initial
investment was several hundred thousand dollars. He declined to
reveal how much of the Yankees he owns today, saying it is
neither the smallest nor the largest piece.
Other limited partners in the team, which was purchased
from CBS Corp. in 1973 for about $10 million, include
billionaire Lester Crown and tax lawyer Daniel McCarthy. A
separate class of ownership has a stake in the team and the
Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network tied to the YankeeNets
venture that dissolved in 2004.
It was McMullen who said theres nothing as limited as
being a limited partner of Steinbrenners.
There was a fair amount of validity to that quote up
until a certain point in the 1990s when George became more open
and inclusive, Goldklang said. Partnership meetings became a
little more of a democratic process but only slightly so.
Steinbrenner, whom Goldklang says was a friend, died July
13 at the age of 80. Goldklang said Steinbrenners detail-
obsessed management style, from which free agents to sign to the
tidiness of stadium restrooms, was an inspiration.
Steinbrenner surprised Goldklang with championship rings
from the 1977 and 1978 seasons after he bought into the team in
1979. He still wears the 1977 version.
This is the only ring my wife will let me wear because
its the least gaudy, he joked.
Steinbrenners son Hal, 40, now holds the title of Yankees
managing general partner with the full support of the entire
partnership, Goldklang said. Hals older brother, 53-year-old
Hank, is in charge of baseball operations for the Yankees.
Yankees spokeswoman Alice McGillion said in an e-mail that
the succession was going as planned when it was implemented two
While the Yankees are baseballs most valuable franchise at
$1.6 billion, according to Forbes, Goldklang made a financial
sacrifice in changing careers, said Veeck, whose father, Bill
Veeck, was a major-league owner and one of baseballs great
He walked away from a huge career, Veeck said in a
telephone interview in which he highlighted Goldklangs
humility. Nobody was more surprised that we made a couple of
bucks with a club here or there, but it was never the driving
Hall of Fame
In 2004, Goldklang was inducted into the Hall of Fame for
the South Atlantic League, home of the RiverDogs, a Class-A
affiliate of the Yankees. Hell join the Florida State League
Hall in November.
Hes an incredibly well-respected person not only in our
league but throughout the industry, Eric Krupa, president of
the South Atlantic League, said in a telephone interview.
There are people in our industry who have taken the time to
figure out what works and apply it in multiple sites, and thats
exactly what hes done.
Goldklang was part of a group that created the Israel
Baseball League, which ended operations after playing just the
2007 season. He holds the exclusive option through 2011 to start
another league in Israel and is determining what it would take
for a professional league there to be economically viable.
Part of the short answer is that it would require two or
perhaps three baseball facilities that currently do not exist in
Israel right now, so its still a work in progress, he said.
In the Family
Goldklang said hell likely pass on his Yankees ownership
stake to his family, though he hasnt given it much thought.
Hes been married for 42 years, has four children ranging from
31 to 38 years old and seven grandchildren. While the investment
is more than 30 years old itself, thats less than half as long
as hes rooted for the team.
The lawyer remembers breaking his nose in a school recess
collision as a 7-year-old third-grader. While lying on a
doctors office table to have the nose reset, he listened on the
radio as the normally pull-hitting right-hander Joe DiMaggio, a
Yankees Hall of Famer and Goldklangs first baseball hero,
pushed a home run to right field.
I remember thinking he did it for me, Goldklang said.