New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner dies at 80 in Tampa

12:10 PM, Jul 13, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has died.

The New York Daily News and other media outlets reported Tuesday morning that Steinbrenner suffered a massive heart attack at his Tampa home and was hospitalized before dying Tuesday morning.

Steinbrenner last week told the Associated Press he was "feeling good" after spending a couple hours in his office at the Yankees' spring training complex.

Photo Gallery: George Steinbrenner 1930 - 2010

During Steinbrenner's ownership, the Yankees have won 11 pennants and seven World Series.

The Yankees are off for most of this week for the All-Star break, but their next game will be against the Tampa Bay Rays this Friday at Yankee Stadium.  The Yankees next come to Tropicana Field at the end of the month.

When Steinbrenner celebrated his 80th birthday on July 4 at his home in Tampa, he said in a press release through his spokesman Howard J. Rubenstein:

"I want to thank everyone who has sent their good wishes. I am very fortunate to have the love and support of a great family and many, many friends. The Yankees and their fans are a large part of what keeps me going. It means a lot. And I remind everyone that the Fourth of July is also the birthday of our country. We are all lucky to be Americans."

Often controversial as owner

Steinbrenner, who was twice suspended from baseball, was admired and disdained as owner of the Yankees. He was beloved by Yankee fans for his exorbitant spending, and ridiculed by his peers for the escalation of player salaries. He was suspended shortly after purchasing the team for making illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon but became more famous for his lengthy and dysfunctional relationship with manager Billy Martin.

"George Steinbrenner was very good to me," Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre recently said. Torre managed 12 years for Steinbrenner, winning four World Series titles in five seasons. "I will have nothing but great memories."

Said Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who played, managed and worked as a general manager for Steinbrenner: "You couldn't have worked for a better owner. The man was driven to win. You didn't always agree with how he went about it, but you can't argue with his determination."

Steinbrenner's motto was simple: Do your job or lose it. Steinbrenner hired and fired 16 managers but not always different managers, with Martin, Bob Lemon and Gene Michael having several managerial stints. He once fired his secretary for bringing the wrong sandwich and a stadium electrician when the loudspeakers malfunctioned.

"That was George," Piniella said. "He demanded perfection throughout the organization. Let me tell you, he wasn't the easiest man to work for, but I don't know of anyone who wanted to win more."

Steinbrenner, whose player payroll has long been the highest in baseball, said in 2005: "I haven't always done a good job, and I haven't always been successful. But I know that I have tried."

The following is a statement released by Steinbrenner's 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."

Mr. Steinbrenner recently celebrated his 80th birthday on July 4.

Funeral arrangements will be private. There will be an additional public service with details to be announced at a later date.

Tampa Mayor shares thoughts on Steinbrenner's passing

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio calls George Steinbrenner a larger than life personality.  Iorio released the following after news that Steinbrenner died this morning:  

"I am deeply saddened by the death of George Steinbrenner.  Our community has lost a grand and generous person who made a difference in ways large and small.  With a larger-than-life personality, he leaves a lasting legacy in sports, business, and philanthropy. 

"Many times he worked behind the scenes to help individuals and institutions - all to make Tampa a better place to live. He was a true community leader. By making Tampa the home for his family and the spring training home for the New York Yankees, he forever changed our community for the better. 

"He cared about law enforcement and their families and his establishment of the Gold Shield Foundation will continue to positively impact lives. His dedication to the betterment of the youth in our community was unmatched.  Mr. Steinbrenner's passing is a great loss to our city and to his family and friends.  On behalf of the city of Tampa, I offer condolences and I ask our community to keep them in your thoughts and prayers. He will forever be missed."

Crist: Steinbrenner "did so much for Tampa Bay"

Gov. Charlie Crist called George Steinbrenner a close personal friend as well as a friend to Florida.

Speaking in St. Pete this morning, the governor said he had already relayed his condolences to Steinbrenner's daughter who lives in Tampa.

Steinbrenner "did so much for Tampa Bay," said Crist. He was "such a presence here."

Crist also released the following statement:

"Florida joins the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball in mourning the loss of unparalleled baseball icon George Steinbrenner. As the principal owner of the New York Yankees, George redefined the description of a chief executive.  During his tenure, the Yankees won 11 American League pennants and seven world championships. He loved his family, his team, New York City and his home in Tampa, where he brought the Yankees to train each spring and his family's shipbuilding business, providing employment to many families.

"While the public face of George Steinbrenner was a demanding owner, he was extremely generous to others.  Many acts of kindness were bestowed to those in need, with most of those acts going unnoticed except by those who benefited.

"I join with fellow Floridians in offering condolences to George's wife, Joan, sons Hal and Hank, and daughters Jennifer and Jessica, all of whom reside in Tampa."

The Sports Network and 10 Connects News. Contributing: Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY

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