Thu, Jul 15, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Yankees owner ‘The Boss’ Steinbrenner dies at 80

REUTERS , NEW YORK

Then first lady Hillary Clinton stands with New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner during a ceremony to honor the 1998 World Series winning team at the White House in Washington on June 10, 1999.

PHOTO: REUTERS

George Steinbrenner, one of the most colorful and controversial figures in US sports who helped the New York Yankees reclaim their place as the most successful franchise in baseball, died on Tuesday at age 80.

Known as “The Boss” for his tempestuous style, Steinbrenner was loved by Yankees fans, feared by his players and managers and hated by his rivals.

The long-time Yankees owner resurrected the team from a period of decline, returning it to glory in the 1970s.

His family and baseball club announced his death, but did not give a cause. Media reports said he had a massive heart attack at his home in Tampa, Florida.

“Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing,” Steinbrenner once said.

Willing to spend heavily to sign star players, he demanded results and got them as the Yankees won seven World Series titles and 11 American League pennants after he bought the fabled club in 1973. The Yankees won their record 27th World Series title last year.

“He took, literally, a dying franchise and turned it into arguably the greatest franchise in American sports and along the way probably saved baseball,” said Sal Galatioto, president of Galatioto Sports Partners.

Steinbrenner was twice suspended from baseball — once for making illegal contributions to former US president Richard Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign and then for hiring a private investigator to tail one of his players.

However, Steinbrenner had mellowed in recent years, particularly after his club went on a streak of winning four World Series titles between 1996 and 2000. While he had once fired field managers in fits of anger, he let Joe Torre manage the team for many years without the constant meddling of the past.

With his health failing, Steinbrenner’s son Hal Steinbrenner assumed control of the Yankees in 2008.

The team Steinbrenner bought for US$10 million in 1973 is now worth US$1.6 billion, nearly twice as much as any other in baseball, Forbes magazine estimated.

The Yankees also own around 40 percent of YES Network, a regional cable operation that broadcasts the team’s games. It was valued at around US$3 billion in 2007, when the Yankees and other stakeholders looked at selling it.

“Steinbrenner died on the same day as one of baseball’s signature events — the annual all-star game to be played on Tuesday night in Anaheim, California. His death came two days after that of another Yankees legend, announcer Bob Sheppard.

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