New York Yankees executive George Steinbrenner dies at 80

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

George Michael Steinbrenner III, businessman, owner and former principal executive of the New York Yankees, died at 6:30 a.m. EDT (1030 UTC) Tuesday of a massive heart attack at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Florida, at age 80.

His family issued a statement saying, "It is with profound sadness that the family of George M. Steinbrenner III announces his passing. He was an incredible and charitable man....He was a visionary and a giant in the world of sports. He took a great but struggling franchise and turned it into a champion again."

Born on July 4, 1930, Steinbrenner, a former shipping magnate, bought the Yankees from CBS in 1973. As owner of the Yankees, he led the team to eleven American League pennants and seven World Series titles. Nicknamed "The Boss," Steinbrenner pursued free agents with great fervor, signing Reggie Jackson to a five-year, US$3.5 million deal after the 1976 season. He also frequently changed managers, including firing and rehiring Billy Martin five times. Steinbrenner was banned from baseball in 1990 for paying US$400,000 to get information to discredit former Yankees outfielder David Winfield, but was reinstated in 1993.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered flags at City Hall Plaza to be lowered to half mast, saying, "Our hearts and prayers go out to the entire Steinbrenner family. This is a sad day not only for Yankee fans, but for our entire city, as few people have had a bigger impact on New York over the past four decades than George Steinbrenner."

Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon, and Saul Katz, owners of the Yankees' crosstown rival Mets, said, "The passing of George Steinbrenner marks the end of an era in New York City baseball history."

Yankees legend Yogi Berra said, "George was The Boss, make no mistake. He built the Yankees into champions and that's something nobody can ever deny. He was a very generous, caring, passionate man. George and I had our differences, but who didn't? We became great friends over the last decade and I will miss him very much."

Current Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig said that he is "very saddened" to hear of the loss and added, "George was a giant of the game and his devotion to baseball was surpassed only by his devotion to his family and his beloved New York Yankees....We will miss him, especially Tuesday night when the baseball family will be gathered at Angel Stadium for the All-Star Game."

Steinbrenner is survived by his wife Joan, two sisters, four children, including Hank and Hal, who took over Yankees operations in 2007, and his grandchildren. The Steinbrenner family said that he will have a private funeral and a public service would be held at a later date. His death comes at a time of great sadness for the Yankees, as two days earlier longtime Yankees public announcer Bob Sheppard died at 99.

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