Tuesday, July 13, 2010

George Steinbrenner, Yankees Owner, Dead at 80

The man who changed the face of baseball, ushering in an era of high-priced free agents and salaries soaring into the tens of millions of dollars and beyond, George Steinbrenner, owner of the NY Yankees since 1973, has died at the age of 80. Steinbrenner purchased the team in 1973 as majority parter of a group which included John DeLorean, Nelson Bunker Hunt and others from CBS for a reported $10 million, ending a long stretch of sub-par Yankee teams and quickly produced a pair of World Series championships in 1977 and 1978 and won 5 more during his tenure as owner, making 11 World Series appearances overall. Nicknamed "the boss" for his hands-on executive style, he became well known for hiring and firing managers on a whim, especially Billy Martin, who was hired and fired five different times during the 70s and 80s. Steinbrenner had recently turned over day-to-day operations to his sons, Hank and Hal and had been in ill-health for some time, rarely venturing outside his Tampa headquarters. Pictured at right is the sports illustrated cover from 1993 featuring Steinbrenner atop a steed, dressed as a colonial general. Never shy with the press, Steinbrenner's flair for the dramatic and the unusual became a trademark in his 37 years of ownership, the longest tenure of any Yankee owner. Passing away just two days after 99-year-old announcer, Bob Sheppard, also known as the "voice of God" for his resonant introductions, not only but Yankee fans, but all of baseball mourns the passage of two giant figures.

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