Always a savvy businessman, Steinbrenner was one of the first baseball owners to take advantage of the free-agent market, which eventually drove up salaries across the sport. In 1975, Steinbrenner signed pitcher "Catfish" Hunter from Oakland, making him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball. Hunter would help lead the Yankees to three straight pennants and two World Series titles. In November 1976, Steinbrenner wooed Reggie Jackson, an All-Star outfielder whose slugging had helped Oakland win three consecutive World Series titles earlier in the decade. On Nov. 29, 1976, Jackson signed with the Yankees to great fanfare a five-year, $2.96 million contract, then the largest in baseball history. The Reggie Jackson acquisition fit with Steinbrenner's philosophy: "Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing," Steinbrenner once said. "Breathing first, winning next."
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