Episodes of Seinfeld are littered with New York Yankees references, many involving George Steinbrenner or a flummoxed George Costanza asking why the team jettisoned Jay Buhner. Not mentioned is what led to the assembling of the talented cast of Yankees whose dismantling led to the series of jokes about the team.
Many of the moves that set this stage were orchestrated by a former Brooklyn Dodger named Clyde King. Briefly a so-so relief pitcher, he worked for decades managing ball clubs at various levels before essentially becoming Steinbrenner’s right-hand man. The duties of this position extended to scouting players, diagnosing problematic pitching mechanics, and firing personnel that Steinbrenner didn’t have the balls to confront (i.e. Yogi Berra). King even filled in as manager in between Billy Martin’s occasional employment with the team.
He was promoted to general manager in 1984 and made multiple roster moves that improved the team. He engineered the arrival of Rickey Henderson from Oakland and dumped underperforming/higher cost players in exchange for Jay Buhner and Doug Drabek. All in, he was a pretty good GM (but as a scout he recommended against starting a rookie Derek Jeter in 1996). Of course, this was Steinbrenner’s team and the man simply could not avoid messing with it. King was replaced as GM in 1987 and many of his additions were soon on their way to rival clubs. King remained loyal and his legacy is now completely intertwined with the team and their mercurial owner.