This Day in Baseball History: March 3rd, 1997

All Day I Dream About Steinbrenner

On March 3, 1997:

George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees sign a deal with Adidas.

Who knew that people could get so touchy about sportswear?

Four months previous to this move, the owners rejected deals from Nike and Reebok that would have given either company league-wide control over the sportswear for Major League Baseball. Not wanting to be tied down, the owners rejected those deals and were supposed to figure out their own deals with the companies. The problem is that they were supposed to bring them to the executive ruling committee. George Steinbrenner was a member of that committee, and apparently, he decided he didn’t need the rest of the committee to make the deal.

Steinbrenner and Adidas began working on an agreement. The ruling council said it was okay as long as they brought the deal in for them to look at. Without doing so, the Yankees would sign a 10-year/$95 million contract with Adidas, and they became and continued to be the only major-league team to use Adidas (other teams use Nike). Obviously, the committee was none too happy with this move, and they suspended Steinbrenner from the committee two months later. Steinbrenner was still allowed to run the team, however, and the deal stood. Phil Knight, the chairman of Nike, was ticked as you might expect, but ultimately, he could do nothing. After 10 years with Adidas, the Yankees finally fell back in line and signed with Nike for this upcoming season.

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