• Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, 80, Has Died

    Posted by on July 13th, 2010 · Comments (30)

    After several outlets reported he was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa with a massive heart attack, the multiple sources are reporting that George Michael Steinbrenner III has died at the age of 80.

    Steinbrenner, who bought the team in 1973, owned the Yankees longer than any other individual or group, but was noticeably absent from public view in recent years, with his sons Hank and Hal serving as the public face of the franchise’s business interest.

    A controversial figure, Steinbrenner is widely credited with spurring player salaries and free agency, but his tenure as owner was also marred by two suspensions from Major League Baseball.

    During his tenure as owner, the Yankees made 11 appearances in the World Series and won seven times.

    Steinbrenner helped build the Yankee brand, overseeing first the renovation of old Yankee Stadium and then the current monument to excess that has come to symbolize the Yankees and Steinbrenner’s larger than life persona.

    In the 1990s, Steinbrenner became a pop culture figure, “starring” in Seinfeld and hosting Saturday Night Live.

    Though a divisive figure in sports and even among Yankee fans, Steinbrenner’s death is a sad day for baseball and for the franchise.

    No formal announcements have been made, but I expect there will be several tributes to him this evening at the All-Star Game and the team will certainly do something to mark his passing.

    We’ll update more as news becomes available.

    Steve Lombardi’s comment: I’ll have more commentary on the sad news of Mr. Steinbrenner’s passing later today. At first blush, the fact that Bob Sheppard just died came to my mind. I recently read Bill Madden’s book on Big Stein and it mentioned that, in his later years, George took the passing of others close to him pretty hard – as it reminded him that he was one of the older elephants left in the tent and the end was near. My second reaction to this news was that this All-Star Game, tonight, will now go down in history as the game played the day that George Steinbrenner passed away. Let’s hope it’s a good game that the Boss would have enjoyed. (Will any Yankees now ask out of the game, because of this news? I doubt it, but, you never know.) In the interim, until I have a chance to gather my thoughts on this and share them in the blog, please feel free to use the comments section of this entry to discuss George Steinbrenner and this news. For now, in closing, all I can say is “The last five years or so have been rough – so, rest in peace Boss.”
    .
    Official Statement from the Steinbrenner family: “It is with profound sadness that the family of George M. Steinbrenner III announces his passing. He passed away this morning in Tampa, Fla., at age 80. He was an incredible and charitable man.

    First and foremost he was devoted to his entire family – his beloved wife, Joan; his sisters, Susan Norpell and Judy Kamm, his children, Hank, Jennifer Jessica and Hal; and all of his grandchildren.

    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.” (h/t: LoHud Blog).

    Statement of Peter Lawrence “Yogi” Berra: “This is a very sad day for me and Carmen and all of baseball.  My sympathies go out to the Steinbrenner family. 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.”

    Statement from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “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. George had a deep love for New York, and his steely determination to succeed – combined with his deep respect and appreciation for talent and hard work – made him a quintessential New Yorker. George invested his heart and soul into the Yankees, and his competitive fire helped usher in new eras of Yankee greatness, reclaiming the team’s long tradition of excellence and its position as the most successful franchise in the history of American sports. He was a champion who made New York a better place, and who always gave back to the city he loved. He has left an indelible legacy on the Yankees, on baseball, and on our city, and he leaves us in the only way that would be appropriate: as a reigning world champion. We will be lowering the flags in City Hall Plaza today in honor of his achievements. George was a larger than life New York figure whose passion and drive to succeed will forever be missed.” (h/t WSJ.com)

    Allan H. “Bud” Selig, commissioner of baseball:

    “On behalf of Baseball, I am very saddened by the passing this morning of George Steinbrenner. 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. He was and always will be as much of a New York Yankee as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and all of the other Yankee legends.

    I have known George ever since he entered the game in 1972. He was my dear friend for nearly four decades. Although we would have disagreements over the years, they never interfered with our friendship and commitment to each other. Our friendship was built on loyalty and trust and it never wavered. We were allies and friends in the truest sense of the words.

    My wife, Sue, and I pass on our deepest sympathies to the Steinbrenner family, to the New York Yankees and to all of his friends. We will miss him, especially tonight when the baseball family will be gathered at Angel Stadium for the All-Star Game.” (link)

    Michael Weiner, executive director of the MLBPA: “George Steinbrenner’s passion for the game of baseball helped revive one of the game’s most storied franchises, and in the process ushered in the modern era of baseball business operations. Mr. Steinbrenner understood and embraced the power of the players, and he put this knowledge to good use in establishing the Yankees as one of the sports world’s most iconic brands.” (h/t USATODAY.com)

    Joe Torre: “I will always remember George Steinbrenner as a passionate man, a tough boss, a true visionary, a great humanitarian, and a dear friend. I will be forever grateful that he trusted me with his Yankees for 12 years. My heart goes out to his entire family. He will be deeply missed in New York, Tampa and throughout the world of baseball. It’s only fitting that he went out as a world champ.” (via Feinsand)

    Feinsand has also collected a bunch of statements from YES Network heads, other owners, Sterling & Waldman and former players. See them here, here and here.

    Jane Forbes Clark, the Chairman of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum: “George Steinbrenner served the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Board of Directors with great commitment and enthusiasm for the last 12 years since his election as a director in 1998.  He shared his vision, kindness, love for the game and his generosity in so many ways as a key figure in the Board’s leadership. His impact on the Museum’s ability to preserve baseball history is felt at so many levels in the organization. Our sympathies are with the Steinbrenner family. He will be greatly missed in Cooperstown.” (link)

    Obits and Remembrances:

    Quotes without links:

    Dave Winfield (via ESPN via Jack Curry’s Twitter) – “one of the top owners in the history of sports.” (ESPN.com Video)

    Peter Gammons on Twitter: “The Boss began with Horace Clarke and died World Champion. He made his fellow owners a lot of money, and was very kind to many of us.”

    Peter Abraham on Twitter: “Steinbrenner was a fascinating figure: Charitable and cruel at the same time, stubborn yet visionary. He changed all of sports. In my 1st year covering the Yankees, most of spring training was spent chasing George down hallways. He was bigger than any player.”

    Friend and Basketball coach Bob Knight: “I doubt if there’s anyone who did so much for so many people without anybody knowing about it, it’d be George Steinbrenner . . . What he did for people was a very personal and private thing for him. George Steinbrenner was a great, great American.”

    Darryl Strawberry: “What people don’t understand about him, he cares about people. George surprised me and came to the hospital (in 1998) and at my bedside encouraged me that everything was going to be alright. ”

    CNBC’s Darren Rovell on Twitter on the business legacy: Since George Steinbrenner became owner, of the Yanks, the other MLB clubs had over 100 ownership changes.

    Money George Steinbrenner spent on the Yanks payroll since 2000: $1.87 BILLION

    1997: Yankees sold $52 million worth of tickets. 2009: Yankees sold $397 million worth of tickets.

    Steinbrenner’s biz legacy: Revenues for the Yankees this year will hover around $600 million. Steinbrenner bought the Yankees in ’73 for $8.7M. Remarkable.

    Ken Davidoff on Twitter: “George dominated my life, as a Yankees reporter. When my wife called to say we were expecting, I was chasing him down a corridor in Tampa.”

    Another business update from Jon Weisenthal of the Business Insider: Because the estate tax has taken a temporary hiatus, due to Congress’ slow fade and then rise of the estate tax, the Steinbrenner family will pay no taxes on the inheritance related to the Yankees. (link)

    Dan Graziano on Twitter: “To say G Steinbrenner was a good man would be to ignore my first-hand experience. So I can’t. But he belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.” (Graziano has a long obit at the Newark Star Ledger, his former employer).

    Add on by Steve Lombardi:
    Some stats to help celebrate the Steinbrenner legacy today: Completed Yankees Seasons Under Big Stein

    Comments on Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, 80, Has Died

    1. Corey Italiano
      July 13th, 2010 | 9:52 am

      FWIW

      http://twitter.com/CBCNewsDesk

      Canada’s reporting that he passed..

    2. YankCrank
      July 13th, 2010 | 9:53 am

      Ugh, bad week for the Yankee organization as Bob Sheppard and George Steinnbrenner pass.

      I know you’re loved and hated by many people for various reasons, but above all…thanks for making us a relevant organization again.

    3. July 13th, 2010 | 9:54 am

      Two sources have told Newsday that George Steinbrenner died Tuesday morning after suffering a massive heart attack last night.

    4. butchie22
      July 13th, 2010 | 9:55 am

      Steinbrenner has died.

    5. July 13th, 2010 | 9:55 am
    6. butchie22
      July 13th, 2010 | 9:57 am

      YankCrank wrote:

      Ugh, bad week for the Yankee organization as Bob Sheppard and George Steinnbrenner pass. I know you’re loved and hated by many people for various reasons, but above all…thanks for making us a relevant organization again.

      Bizarre how two icons of the Yankee organization died so close in proximity. I loved Shephard and wasn’t such a big fan of George but may they both rest in peace.

    7. MJ Recanati
      July 13th, 2010 | 9:58 am

      AP is reporting it as well.

      I hated Steinbrenner and will never change my opinion of the man, even now that he’s gone.

      But I do hope that his family has comfort in this time of sorrow. I’m sure they loved him and he’ll be missed by those who considered him a friend. My condolences to them, of course.

    8. Raf
      July 13th, 2010 | 10:04 am

      Wow… Just, wow…

    9. July 13th, 2010 | 10:06 am

      The post has been updated to reflect his death and a bit of a hastily written obituary.

      Would folks prefer this post to be updated through the day with reactions, etc, or a new location for them?

    10. July 13th, 2010 | 10:16 am

      Sean McNally wrote:

      The post has been updated to reflect his death and a bit of a hastily written obituary.
      Would folks prefer this post to be updated through the day with reactions, etc, or a new location for them?

      Sean – nice job on the obit!
      I would recommend just adding updates on reactions under my commentary just added – to make it a one-shop stop today for all who want to read and comment on the news. Thanks.

    11. Raf
      July 13th, 2010 | 10:17 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      y second reaction to this news was that this All-Star Game, tonight, will now go down in history as the game played the day that George Steinbrenner passed away.

      I thought about that too.

    12. Raf
      July 13th, 2010 | 10:37 am

      SportsCenter’s currently airing a tribute (opinions, commentary, clips, etc), MLB Network mentioned it on their sports ticker, haven’t had a “Breaking News” cutaway or anything. Interesting.

      YES is playing his Yankeeography

    13. GDH
      July 13th, 2010 | 10:39 am

      Rest in peace Boss. There were many times over the years that I cursed your meddling and pettiness. However as Crank mentioned, you made the Yankees the Yankees again. For that I will always be grateful. ON a less serious side, if Bob Sheppard is up at the Pearly Gates announcing the inductees, is Boss up there telling the confused ones where to go?

    14. YankCrank
      July 13th, 2010 | 11:04 am

      I’m sad about George, but i’m also wondering what happens with the organization in the future. I guess we’ll see how dedicated the Steinbrenner sons are to still owning the Yankees in the coming years…

    15. July 13th, 2010 | 11:18 am

      You know, I never met the man. And, in my entire life, only once I have known someone who knew George Steinbrenner. (Years ago, I was in a rotisserie league with a guy who used to be legal counsel for the Yankees in the 1980′s – and his wife worked for the team too, in Stadium Operations.) And, I know he was legendary for being a prick. And, I know that he was 80-years old and very, very, sick the last few years. Yet, today, the more I think about his passing, the sadder I get about it.

      I sort of don’t want to be bothered with anything else – and just want to think about this…

      Seems fitting that it’s an ugly day, weather-wise, in the heart of Yankeeland, today, too…on a day with this kind of news.

      For sure, this is one of those days in Yankees history that many fans will remember…and talk about for years to come.

    16. MJ Recanati
      July 13th, 2010 | 11:32 am

      YankCrank wrote:

      wondering what happens with the organization in the future.

      The best thing that can happen is if a similarly eccentric/idiosyncratic guy buys the team. My hope is that Hank/Hal sell the team to Mark Cuban in a few years. He’s the only potential owner out there that I can think of who would invest in the team as heavily as the Steinbrenner family did. Everyone else that I can think of would just leech off the profits and run the team into the ground (Donald Trump, Jim/Chuck Dolan).

    17. July 13th, 2010 | 11:50 am

      @ MJ Recanati: Cuban’s not getting in. Bud and the boys wouldn’t let him get the Cubs. Imagine if Boras and A-Rod teamed up to buy the team from the Stein Brothers? Agents have turned in their cards to buy teams before…no?

    18. #15
      July 13th, 2010 | 12:02 pm

      The Big Stein ranged from raving maniac to brilliant businessman, sometimes in the same moment. Probably like some of our fathers, except for that whole brilliant businessman part. He brought home 7 rings in 37 years and kept rewarding the fans by putting their money and his money into the team. Any fan, of any team, would take that record. Remember that there are people that have been Met fans and Cub fans, and Baltimore fans, etc… over those same 37 years. Moreover, he recognized that there was this largely untapped financial juggernaut to be had by embracing, building on and cultivating the Yankee legacy and brand. Think about it. When he bought the team, the Yankees were just another middling business with poor attendance and a decaying infrastructure. The hardest task in business is a turn-around, and the hardest task in a turn-around is overcoming the inertia that has set in. Eggs will be broken, personalities will clash, the old guard will sulk…. More than anyone, George was responsible for getting that flywheel spinning; and it just keeps building momentum. Just hope the kids have the same passion for it. Some of the organization guys I know are concerned the kids will sell the team after George dies. Hope not. Can’t see them being run by a Disney or a Comcast or a Fox, etc…

      I’ve gotten to know a couple of dozen employees of the Yankees and a few dozen players that worked for George. Some real long termers in that group. As one might expect, opinions on George were and are all over the place. My view was that most of the negative reviews were exactly what you’d get if you asked any group of employees about their boss. Most of the positive comments were a bit deeper… they were less likely to recall George yelling at someone to sweep up trash around the corner of the Stadium, and more likely to talk about how George had helped them or, even more often than is publically discussed, helped a youth organization.

      I’m the proud owner of a signed Big Stein baseball and I’m glad I got to shake his hand a few years ago.

      I’ll be at the Stadium on Friday night… first game after the break… ought to be quite a night.

      George…. Rest in peace. Rest in peace, indeed.

    19. July 13th, 2010 | 12:05 pm

      Just thought about this – next Saturday, 4 days after Stein’s passing, is Old-Timers Day at the Stadium. Should be some day.

    20. Evan3457
      July 13th, 2010 | 12:06 pm

      Just now heard about this.

      An unusual man that I’ve never fully understood.

      So much more driven to win that the average owner that it was frequently counter-productive, yet still achieved far more success than any other team during his time of ownership. Created chaos and rubbed people raw so often, you’d have thought he’d eventually self-destruct, yet was able to take an investment of a few million dollars, and turn it into an empire worth over a billion.

      Driven to please a father who would not be pleased. Drove his own sons out of his main business until he could no longer stay in charge, then handed it to them without a 2nd thought. Took exceptional steps to alienate his players, managers and coaches so thoroughly they would no longer have anything to do with him; then took exceptional steps to apologize and make up for his excesses, bringing them back into the Yankees’ circle. So driven to win, he did crazy, disproportionate, sometimes unethical things. Yanks might have won it all more with another owner, but probably wouldn’t have won much with any other man in charge.

      Exceptionally cruel to his employees, even employees who were powerless.

      Exceptionally kind to complete strangers; gave away tens of millions of dollars to various causes over the years.

      The long-term future of the Yankees was always safe while he owned them; now, the long-term future is hazy indeed.

      ==========================================

      Having passed, I hope he finds the peace in death that so often eluded him in life.

      R.I.P., Mr. Steinbrenner.

    21. MJ Recanati
      July 13th, 2010 | 12:38 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Cuban’s not getting in. Bud and the boys wouldn’t let him get the Cubs.

      I know, which speaks volumes about how short-sighted and stupid a man Bud Selig is. Cuban is the only billionaire I can think of that I’d trust with the Yankees.

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Imagine if Boras and A-Rod teamed up to buy the team from the Stein Brothers? Agents have turned in their cards to buy teams before…no?

      I’d love that. In fact, short of Mark Cuban buying the team, that’s the outcome I’d root for next.

    22. July 13th, 2010 | 1:07 pm

      I wonder if the FOX guys will have Joe Torre on the game tonight for comments on the news?

    23. Raf
      July 13th, 2010 | 1:49 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      I wonder if the FOX guys will have Joe Torre on the game tonight for comments on the news?

      Don’t see why they wouldn’t; Torre’s issues seem to be with Steinbrenners the younger. Zim, OTOH…

    24. July 13th, 2010 | 1:51 pm

      FYI, I just added some more links to the Obits and Remembrances. Worth checking these out. Good stories.

    25. MJ Recanati
      July 13th, 2010 | 1:52 pm

      I wonder if the Yanks will fly to Tampa for the funeral after the All-Star game and if at least one of the weekend games vs. TB is pushed to a night game to accomodate the funeral arrangements.

    26. July 13th, 2010 | 2:06 pm

      Via Davidoff – MLB is planning a Derek Jeter news conference at Angel Stadium to discuss Steinbrenner’s death.

    27. July 13th, 2010 | 2:07 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      I wonder if the Yanks will fly to Tampa for the funeral after the All-Star game and if at least one of the weekend games vs. TB is pushed to a night game to accomodate the funeral arrangements.

      Good question. It won’t be Saturday – since that’s OTD.

    28. July 13th, 2010 | 2:11 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Obituary writing is among the most thankless, yet difficult things to do in newspapers.

      I’ve never had the knack for it and avoid it at all costs if I can, but those who do it well deserve great admiration.

    29. G.I. Joey
      July 13th, 2010 | 3:06 pm

      I remember the big screen in the outfield after Game 6 of the 2009 WS reading “Boss, This Is For You”

      #28 will most certainly be for him and Bob Sheppard.

    30. 77yankees
      July 13th, 2010 | 7:36 pm

      Thirty seven years of Steinbrenner ownership: 7 World Championships

      To put that in perspective: Only two franchises, the Cardinals and A’s, have more titles in their entire history.

      Call him whatever you want – just make sure you call him a winner first and foremost.

      R.I.P. Boss

    Leave a reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.