The owner of the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner, has died. Steinbrenner, who turned 80 years old on July 4, suffered a massive heart attack on Monday, before being rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Florida. His family confirmed his death on Tuesday morning.
"He was a visionary and a giant in the world of sports," reads a statement from Steinbrenner's family. "He took a great but struggling franchise and turned it into a champion again.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said his borough and New York City as a whole had lost a giant with the passing of Steinbrenner, who was known as "The Boss" for his outspokenness and tenacious involvement in day-to-day team decisions.
"During his tenure as owner of the New York Yankees, Mr. Steinbrenner did everything in his power to create his own winning tradition in the Bronx, an effort that resulted in seven World Series championships," Diaz said. "While other baseball fans were jealous of this success, Yankee fans, like myself, loved him for it."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that fewer people had a bigger impact on New York in the past four decades than Steinbrenner.
"George had a deep love for New York, and his steely determination to succeed -- combined with his deep respect and appreciation for talent and hard work -- made him a quintessential New Yorker," the mayor said. "George invested his heart and soul into the Yankees, and his competitive fire helped usher in new eras of Yankee greatness, reclaiming the team’s long tradition of excellence and its position as the most successful franchise in the history of American sports."
George M. Steinbrenner, III was the owner of the Yankees from 1973 up until his death. During those 37 years, the Yankees posted a Major League-best .566 winning percentage, and won 11 American League pennants and seven World Championships. He turned control of the team over to his sons, Hank and Al, in 2006 due to health problems, including Alzheimer's Disease. Steinbrenner also created YankeeNets, which owned the New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils and led to the launch of the YES Network.
Before sinking his teeth into New York baseball, Steinbrenner served in the U.S. Air Force for two years, and owned the American Ship Building Company, which was then one of the largest shipping companies in the Great Lakes region.
"He was someone about whom you can truly say that there will never be another one like him," Sen. Charles Schumer said. "He donated his time and money to countless charitable causes, and was a driving force in the U.S. Olympic Committee, where he made sure America’s athletes could reach their full potential, bringing home gold medals and making sports fans around this great country proud of our athletes."
Steinbrenner is survived by his wife, Joan; his sisters, Susan Norpell and Judy Kamm; his children, Hank, Jennifer, Jessica and Hal; and his grandchildren. Steinbrenner's funeral will be a private affair, but an additional public service will also be scheduled. In New York, flags will be lowered in City Hall Plaza on Tuesday to recognize his achievements.