Skip to main content

Do The Yankees Have Their Successor to Hal Steinbrenner?

The next-generation heir of the Steinbrenner family has been revealed.

Although New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is only 54 years old, he has an ideal successor in place.

Steve Swindal Jr., the nephew of Hal and the grandson of the late George Steinbrenner, is currently the Yankees' assistant director of player development. However, he is currently viewed inside and outside the team as the heir to his uncle's throne, having been involved in the family business since his teenage years.

On Wednesday, the 35-year-old was interviewed by MLB Network insider Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The interview touched several subjects, including his relationship with his grandfather, the team's use of analytics, the use of nepotism in ownership, and his journey climbing the ranks in the organization.

“I think I understood at an early age that I was obviously born into a family where I was going to have opportunities that other people might not have,” Swindal said in the interview. “To hide from that, would be kind of silly. I feel like if you have the opportunity, you should seize it and make the best of what you can. To me that was learning as much as I possibly can from the bottom levels and, trying to work up and understanding how it operates. It was for me to understand how this entire thing operates.

"This [working for the Yankees] is all I ever wanted to do," Swindal proudly stated. 

In 2005, George announced that Swindal's father, Steve Sr., was going to succeed him. But after an arrest for DUI, his wife (and George's daughter) Jennifer divorced him, effectively ending his involvement with the Yankees; George's sons Hal and Hank would ultimately succeed The Boss.

Steve Jr. is not jumping to any "heir apparent" conclusions due to the situation with his father; he is also his uncle's first line of defense from criticism.

“It’s not on the radar,” Swindal said. “Hopefully, Hal’s not going anywhere for a long time because I think he’s really good at this. And I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves because he’s not as outspoken as my grandfather was. He’s really, really, really good at this. Unfortunately, the championships, the World Series this past 10 or 12 years haven’t come to show that. But I will be his fervent defender. I really do think he’s great. So that’s the first part — I don’t think he’s going anywhere. So I don’t know if it’s productive to think about that. What I know is that we’ve got a bunch of us in my generation. We want to tackle this thing right now and provide value to get wins now.”

If (or when) Swindal Jr. takes over, it would be optimal for him to strike a balance between George's competitive fire and Hal's patience. George was excellent at bringing in superstars and was willing to go after any free agent and trade target, but his "win now" mentality would eventually damage the team in the late 1980s, depriving the team of badly needed prospects and creating a highly unstable carousel of field managers. On the other hand, Hal has been very loyal to his employees and has created both a stable farm system and on-field product, but is sometimes loyal to a fault; he has passed up on stars like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Corey Seager, while the team is prone to hanging on to prospects for too long. 

Ultimately, Swindal Jr's goal is the same as his grandfather and uncle: to compete for and win the World Series. While it may be quite some time before he takes the reigns (if at all, depending on if he makes a massive mistake akin to his father) due to Hal being in his early-to-mid-50s and remaining a sound mind to lead the team, Swindal Jr. currently has all the makings of a great sports owner.