Yes, Really: George Steinbrenner Was An FBI Informant, Helped On Terrorism Probe

  • Dan Fogarty

George Steinbrenner: legendary Yankees owner. Polarizing baseball personality. Fan of calzones.

FBI informant and undercover operative?

According to documents that the Associated Press requested via the Freedom of Information Act, Steinbrenner assisted the FBI on several occasions, including on a terrorism probe wherein he “placed the lives of his family and himself in jeopardy.”

Steinbrenner’s assistance was part of an effort to get pardoned for his conviction in 1974 of illegally contributing to the campaign of one Richard M. Nixon. Steinbrenner was suspended from baseball for 15 months as a result of said conviction.

According to the just-released memos, Steinbrenner viewed the whole ugly mess as an “embarrassment,” and applied for a pardon. Eventually, he would get one from Ronald Reagan in 1989. But not before providing the Bureau with what they dubbed “valuable assistance.”

The memo disclosed Monday described one probe in which Steinbrenner assisted as “an undercover operation” that ultimately led to an arrest, prosecution and conviction. The FBI described the other investigation simply as “a sensitive security matter.” The FBI deleted all specifics about the probes before releasing the bureau’s file on Steinbrenner, who died last year.

According to FBI memos, The Boss helped out on “two national security matters” from 1978 to 1983. He also volunteered Old Yankee Stadium as the site of a sting operation for “the staging of over 500 gambling raids against a major organized crime syndicate in New York City.” In the end, the FBI opted to use a different site.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of any of this. Like, really, I’ve been sitting here for a half hour trying to find a nice and neat way to wrap all of this up, and I’ve realized there’s no way that’s going to happen.

So, instead, here’s a clip of Larry David shouting about Billy Martin.