New York Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner Passes Away
For New York Yankees fans, today marks the end of an era. Just two days after the team’s longtime public address announcer Bob Sheppard died at the age of 99, team owner George Steinbrenner passed away early this morning at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida at the age of 80 after suffering a massive heart attack. He battled health issues, including heart problems, in the years leading up to his death.
Even before buying the Yankees in 1973, the Ohio native was actively involved in sports. He purchased the Cleveland Pipers of the ABL in 1960 and, though he took a large financial loss doing so, he learned much about the sports franchise business. After a short foray into the world of theater, he purchased the Yankees in 1973 from CBS for about $10 million and helped them win 11 American League pennants and 7 World Series titles over the course of his time with the team.
While Steinbrenner earned the nickname “the Boss” for feuding with his managers and signing high-priced free agents, he is credited with single-handedly building the Yankees into the most successful American sports franchise of all-time. By becoming the first owner to sell the TV cable rights to his team, Steinbrenner helped the value of the Yankees swell to well over $1.2 billion. He retired from his day-to-day duties in 2006, leaving his sons Hank and Hal to run the team.
His success extended beyond the baseball diamond, too. Steinbrenner was involved in thoroughbred-horse racing since the early 1970s, operating a stud farm in Ocala, Florida. He’s been featured prominently in several TV commercials and hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live in 1990. And he was infamously caricatured in more than a dozen episodes of Seinfeld—where he was played by comedian Larry David—making him a pop-culture icon as well as a legendary sports figure.
Steinbrenner is survived by his wife Joan; his sisters Susan Norpell and Judy Kamm; his children Hank, Jennifer, Jessica and Hal; and several grandchildren.
Private funeral services will be held for him later this week.