Jul 132010
 
Authors: John Valenti and Ken Davidoff

Two sources close to the Steinbrenner family told Newsday the longtime Yankees owner, known to many simply as “The Boss,” died Tuesday morning following a massive heart attack at his home late Monday night.

Local television stations in Tampa reported Tampa Fire Rescue was called to the Steinbrenner home and transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital in extremely critical condition.

Steinbrenner had celebrated his 80th birthday on July 4.

The death of Steinbrenner comes just days after longtime Yankee Stadium announcer Bob Sheppard died at age 99 at his home in Baldwin, N.Y.

“It is with profound sadness that the family of George M. Steinbrenner III announces his passing,” said a statement released Tuesday morning by longtime Steinbrenner spokesman Howard Rubenstein.

“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.”

The statement said funeral arrangements will be private. There will be an additional public service with details to be announced later.

“I think the thing I learned from him more than anything is to never quit,” Darryl Strawberry, a star outfielder for the Yankees from 1995-99, told ESPN Tuesday morning.

“When I got knocked down, he was there to pick me up,” said Strawberry, who has battled drug addiction.

After building his fortune in the shipbuilding industry, Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees from CBS in 1973 and returned them to the glory of the Babe Ruth-Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle-Yogi Berra-Whitey Ford era teams.

It was later revealed Steinbrenner invested less than $200,000 in the $10-million deal –– but turned the Yankees into the most valuable franchise in sports history, with an estimated worth of well more than $1 billion.

“Owning the Yankees is like owning the ‘Mona Lisa,’ “ Steinbrenner once said.

The success of the franchise includes the launching of the acclaimed YES network.

During Steinbrenner’s reign, the Yankees won 11 American League pennants and 7 World Series titles. But Steinbrenner, who also was known for his philanthropic work, also became one of the most vilified owners in sports _ sometimes depicted in sports cartoons wearing a World War I German army helmet and dubbed “Gen. von Steingrabber.”

He was often lampooned in episodes of “Seinfeld” as well.

In his first 23 seasons as owner, he changed managers 20 times –– including firing Billy Martin five times. He also changed the general manager of the team 11 times in 30 years. However, he also built winning teams –– and wasn’t afraid to spend money doing so.

Among his notable free-agent signings were pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter and star outfielder Reggie Jackson.
Within the last decade, the team signed a host of high-profile free agents, including Alex Rodriguez, C.C.

Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira –– all key figures as the Yankees won the World Series in 2009. Steinbrenner handed over daily operations of the team to his sons, Hank and Hal, by the time of that win.

 Posted by at 5:22 pm

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