Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died in Florida this morning after a fatal heart attack and news of his passing has inspired goodbyes from a variety of sources. Both YES and CBS are planning to air tributes tonight. Here’s a handful of statements that summarize the fond farwells he’s received.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the entire Steinbrenner family. We’re thankful George got to see the Yankees bring one more title to the city he loved.”
“The rise and success of his teams on the field and in the business marketplace under his leadership are a testament to his skill, drive, and determination.”
“The last time I’d seen him and really shook hands with him was the last day of the old Yankees stadium. We’d mended our relationship by then and I’m just kind of sorrowful for his family at this time. That’s all I can really say.”
“Everyone knows George Steinbrenner went from loser to legend by taking a second division team with a struggling franchise in 1973 and turning it into a champion again. But he was much more than a winner and a celebrity. There was no falseness in him. He did everything with his heart: His family, his friends, his team, his nation and his community. I’m not surprised that in the end he died by wearing it out.”
“George was The Boss, make no mistake. 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.”
Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association:
“George Steinbrenner’s passion for the game of baseball helped revive one of the game’s most storied franchises, and in the process ushered in the modern era of baseball business operations. Mr. Steinbrenner understood and embraced the power of the players, and he put this knowledge to good use in establishing the Yankees as one of the sports world’s most iconic brands.”
“He did ownership right. He loved what he did and did things the way he loved to do them…”
“I doubt if there’s ever been anybody who did so much for so many people without anyone ever knowing about it.”
For all his flaws, I think the basic dichotomy of his life was between the Steinbrenner who screamed at you for not getting the job done even if there were 143 extenuating circumstances, and the Steinbrenner who screamed at you for not getting the job done and then made the realization himself that there were 143 extenuating circumstances and tried to resolve all of them for you.
“Like New York and like the Yankees, George Steinbrenner was a champion. He was someone about whom you can truly say that there will never be another one like him. When he bought the Yankees in 1973 the franchise was moribund and he quickly restored them to greatness. I, along with millions of Yankees fans, am thankful for the countless hours of joy we have experienced watching his team at the Stadium or following them on television and radio. He was a true New York icon. My condolences and best wishes go out to the Steinbrenners and the entire Yankee family.”
Finally, a real treat from The New Yorker, which unearthed a 2002 article in which Steinbrenner recounts his memories from the day he bought the Yankees from CBS chairman William S. Paley.
The day he met Paley is still vivid in Steinbrenner’s mind. “He had his face turned away from me, and he said, ‘I understand you’re here to buy the Yankees, or to make a proposal.’ I was scared shitless. I said, ‘Yes, sir, I am.’ He said, ‘I like that “sir.” ’ I said, ‘Well, that’s the way I’ve been brought up.’ He said, ‘I know where you’ve been to school, and I know all about you.’ He had a full bio. He said, ‘Tell me, do you want to give me Chinese paper for this team?’ I said, ‘Sir, I don’t know what Chinese paper is.’ He says, ‘It’s just plain paper that you can’t take to the bank.’ I said, ‘No, sir, I’m here with cash. I got as many of my friends as I could to put up the money to come in.’ He turned around—it was the first time I saw him face to face. He says, ‘You got a deal.’ I almost died. I could’ve fainted right there.”