Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Boss Has Left the Office !!! Steinbrenner passes away at 80 !!

Another Very Sad Day for Yankee Fans.
Love him or hate him he was a TRUE Baseball Man !!!
Rest in Peace George.
The Bronx Zoo will miss it's Keeper !!

Piniella calls Steinbrenner 'father figure'
Cubs manager, a former Yankee, and Ricketts speak of Boss

CHICAGO -- Lou Piniella and George Steinbrenner had their share of run-ins, but the former Yankees player and manager had nothing but respect for "The Boss," who passed away Tuesday.

"George was like a father figure to me," Piniella said in a statement issued by the Cubs. "He treated me well, he treated me fair and he gave me a wonderful opportunity to play and manage the game we all love."

Piniella played for Steinbrenner and the Yankees from 1974-84, winning World Series rings in 1977 and '78, and managed the team in 1986, '87 and '88, although not without some interruptions. Steinbrenner dismissed him twice, replacing Piniella with Billy Martin, then rehired "Sweet Lou."

Piniella guided the Cincinnati Reds to the World Series championship in 1990, sweeping the Oakland Athletics. Piniella reportedly said after the triumph: "See, George, I can manage."

Despite their run-ins, Steinbrenner respected Piniella as well.

"I don't know if I've had another player who cared so much," Steinbrenner said in a 2001 Sports Illustrated article by Frank Deford about Piniella. "Such instinct and desire."

"George will be remembered as one of the most influential and renowned owners of a franchise in sports history," Piniella said in the statement released Tuesday. "He leaves a legacy of winning and an unwavering passion for success.

"My wife Anita and I send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Steinbrenner family and the Yankees organization," Piniella said. "George was very special to me and I loved him."

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts also issued a statement upon the passing of Steinbrenner, who celebrated his 80th birthday on July 4.

"My family and I are sad to learn of the passing of George Steinbrenner early this morning," Ricketts said. "He will be truly missed by players, fans and all of Major League Baseball.

"George will be remembered for the leader he was, the championships he brought into being and his many contributions to America's pastime," Ricketts said. "My family and all of Cubs Nation send our condolences to the Steinbrenner family, the Yankees and their fans."

George Steinbrenner, Who Built Yankees Into Powerhouse,
Dies at 80

George Steinbrenner, who bought a declining Yankees team in 1973, promised to stay out of its daily affairs and then, in an often tumultuous reign, placed his formidable stamp on 7 World Series championship teams, 11 pennant winners and a sporting world powerhouse valued at perhaps $1.6 billion, died Tuesday morning. He was 80 and lived in Tampa, Fla.
The Yankees announced the death without giving a cause. Mr. Steinbrenner had been in failing health for several years and rarely appeared in public.

His death came eight months after the Yankees won their first World Series title since 2000, clinching their six-game victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at his new Yankee Stadium, and two days after the team’s longtime public-address announcer, Bob Sheppard, died at age 99.

A pioneer of modern sports ownership, Mr. Steinbrenner started the wave of high spending for playing talent when free agency arrived in the mid-1970s, and he continued to spend freely through the Yankees’ revival in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the long stretch without a pennant and then renewed triumphs under Joe Torre as manager and General Manager Brian Cashman.

The Yankees’ approximately $210 million payroll in 2009 dwarfed all others in baseball, and the team paid out millions in baseball’s luxury tax and revenue-sharing with small-market teams.

In the frenetic ’70s and ’80s, when general managers, field managers and pitching coaches were sent spinning through Mr. Steinbrenner’s revolving personnel door (Billy Martin had five stints as manager), the franchise became known as the Bronx Zoo. In December 2002, Mr. Steinbrenner’s enterprise had grown so rich that the president of the Boston Red Sox, Larry Lucchino, frustrated over losing the pitcher Jose Contreras to the Yankees, called them the “evil empire.”

But Mr. Steinbrenner — who came to be known as the Boss — and the Yankees thrived through all the arguments, all the turmoil, all the bombast. Having been without a pennant since 1964 when Mr. Steinbrenner bought them, enduring sagging attendance while the upstart Mets thrived, the Yankees once again became America’s marquee sporting franchise.

Despite his poor health, Mr. Steinbrenner attended the opening game at the new Yankee Stadium in April 2009, sitting in his suite with his wife, Joan (pronounced Jo-ann). When he was introduced and received an ovation, his shoulders shook and he cried.

He next appeared at the Yankees’ new home for the first two games of the World Series, then made his final appearance at the 2010 home opener, when Joe Girardi, the manager, and Derek Jeter, the team captain, came to his suite to present him with his 2009 World Series championship ring.

After the Yankees’ World Series victory, Mr. Girardi said, “To be able to deliver this to the Boss, to the stadium he created and the atmosphere he created around here, it’s very gratifying to all of us.” Mr. Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ principal owner and chairman, had ceded increasing authority to his sons, Hal and Hank, who became co-chairmen in May 2008. Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ managing general partner as well, was given control of the team in November 2008 in a unanimous vote by the major league club owners, who acted on his father’s request.

Mr. Steinbrenner lived year-round in Tampa, but he became a New York celebrity and a figure in popular culture. He was lampooned, with his permission, by a caricature in the sitcom “Seinfeld,” portrayed by the actor Lee Bear, who was always photographed from behind at the Boss’s desk, flailing his arms and suitably imperious, while Larry David, the show’s co-creator, provided the voice. George Costanza (Jason Alexander) became the assistant to the team’s traveling secretary, whose duties included fetching calzones for Mr. Steinbrenner.

Mr. Steinbrenner also appeared in a Visa commercial with Jeter, calling him into his office to admonish him. “You’re our starting shortstop,” Mr. Steinbrenner said. “How can you possibly afford to spend two nights dancing, two nights eating out and three nights just carousing with your friends?” Jeter responded by holding up a Visa card. Mr. Steinbrenner exclaimed “Oh!” and the scene shifted to Mr. Steinbrenner in a dance line with Jeter at a night spot.

Mr. Steinbrenner was the central figure in a syndicate that bought the Yankees from CBS for $10 million. When he arrived in New York on Jan. 3, 1973, he said he would not “be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all.” Having made his money as head of the American Shipbuilding Company, based in Cleveland, he declared, “I’ll stick to building ships.”

But four months later, Michael Burke, who had been running the Yankees for CBS and had stayed on to help manage the franchise, departed after clashing with Mr. Steinbrenner. John McMullen, a minority owner in the syndicate, soon remarked that “nothing is as limited as being a limited partner of George’s.”

Mr. Steinbrenner emerged as one of the most powerful, influential and, in the eyes of many, notorious executives in sports. He was the senior club owner in baseball at his death.

Yankee Stadium underwent a major renovation in the mid-1970s, but that did not satisfy Mr. Steinbrenner with the passing of years and the building of many new stadiums with luxury boxes catering to corporate America. He cast an eye toward New Jersey, pressed for a new stadium in Manhattan and ultimately got a $1.5 billion stadium built in the Bronx, alongside the original House That Ruth Built.

Mr. Steinbrenner found new revenue streams from cable television, first in a longtime deal with the Madison Square Garden network and then with the creation of the Yankees’ YES network. The franchise also engineered lucrative marketing deals, notably a 10-year, $95 million apparel agreement with Adidas.

In 2005, the Yankees became the second American League team to top the four million mark in home attendance (the Toronto Blue Jays did it from 1991 to 1993), drawing a league-record 4,090,696. Their home attendance rose during the next three years, reaching a league-record 4,298,655 in 2008. But attendance dipped to 3,719,358 in the first year at the new stadium, which had fewer seats and higher ticket prices.

Mr. Steinbrenner usually adored his players but at times insulted them. He called outfielder Paul O’Neill “the ultimate warrior.” (Steinbrenner idolized Generals MacArthur and Patton.) But he derided the star outfielder Dave Winfield, with whom he feuded, calling him Mr. May, pointedly contrasting him with Reggie Jackson, who had been known as Mr. October for his clutch hitting in the postseason.

He denounced the portly pitcher Hideki Irabu as a fat toad when he was late covering first base in an exhibition game.

Mr. Steinbrenner feuded with his fellow club owners, baseball commissioners and umpires. He was twice barred from baseball, once after pleading guilty to making illegal political campaign contributions. By October 1995, when he was fined for complaining about the umpires in a playoff series with the Seattle Mariners, Mr. Steinbrenner had accumulated disciplinary costs of $645,000.

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