George Steinbrenner Passes Away at 80

After a massive heart attack on Tuesday, July 13, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner passed away in a hospital in Tampa, Florida.

The controversial Yankees owner, who was infamous for his fights with various players and coaches in his staff, was an owner who demanded those working for him nothing short of absolute success.  While his attitudes about winning may have been cumbersome, his own accomplishments were realized as a direct result of that winner’s spirit. 

When George acquired the Yankees, the franchise was worth only 10 million dollars.  Now, a model of the modern franchise, the Yankees are worth over 1.5 billion.  Under Steinbrenner’s iron fist, the Yankees went on to win seven World Series Championships, eleven American League pennants, and 16 AL East titles.  George was a man who expected the best, and he clearly had a chance to revel in his successes many times.

George was never shy about spending money to achieve those successes, either.  At one point, Larry Lucchino, president of the Boston Red Sox, dubbed Steinbrenner’s Yankees, the “Evil Empire.”  Many of the player acquisitions that Steinbrenner was a part of were the most expensive ever seen.  Later, they became the first team to reach a 200 million dollar payroll.  When this milestone was reached, Baltimore Orioles owner Bennett Williams was once quoted saying that Steinbrenner stockpiled outfielders “like nuclear weapons.”

Love him or hate him, Steinbrenner was a huge part of baseball.  His win no matter what attitude made him exceptionally popular among his fans while simultaneously making him one of the most disliked owners in professional sports for stacking his team with talent at great expense.  Even Yogi Berra, who fought with Steinbrenner for 14 years expresses a great deal of adoration for George.  Yogi said, “He built the Yankees into champions, and that’s something nobody can ever deny. He was a very generous, caring, passionate man. George and I had our differences, but who didn’t? We became great friends over the last decade and I will miss him very much.”

George was a winner, no doubt, and that meant the world to him.  He often said, “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing.  Breathing first, winning next.”

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