07/13/2010 11:21 AM ET
Yankees Principal Owner / Chairperson George M. Steinbrenner III passes away
The Yankees organization mourns the passing of Principal Owner / Chairperson George M. Steinbrenner III.
Mr. Steinbrenner passed away in Tampa, Fla., this morning at age 80. He is survived by wife, Joan; sisters Susan Norpell and Judy Kamm, children, Hank, Hal, Jennifer and Jessica; and his grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements will be private. There will be an additional public service with details to be announced at a later date.
At the time of his passing, Mr. Steinbrenner was celebrating his 37th anniversary as Principal Owner of the New York Yankees in 2010. Under his leadership, the Yankees became the leading sports franchise and the most highly recognized sports brand in the world.
On January 3, 1973, a group of businessmen formed and led by Mr. Steinbrenner purchased the New York Yankees from CBS for a net price of $8.7 million. It took just five years for his aggressive leadership to turn the organization back into World Champions. In the 37 years he was Principal Owner of the club, the Yankees posted a Major League-best .566 winning percentage (3,364-2,583-3 record) while winning 11 American League pennants and seven World Championships (also the most in the Majors).
In addition to the team's on-field success, the New York Yankees have consistently shattered franchise and league attendance records at home and on the road. In 2009, they drew 3,719,358 fans in their first season of play in Yankee Stadium, topping the American League in attendance for the seventh straight season (2003-09). Currently, the Yankees remain the only franchise in baseball history to draw more than 4 million fans at home in four consecutive seasons (2005-08).
In recent years, Mr. Steinbrenner's foresight into both sports and business continued to build the value and prominence of the franchise, positioning it for the future. In 2002, Sporting News named him the No. 1 "Most Powerful Man in Sports." Forbes Magazine has consistently listed the Yankees as the most valuable franchise in all of Baseball. Mr. Steinbrenner's vision led to the creation of YankeeNets, which owned the New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils and ultimately led to the launch of the YES Network, a trailblazing enterprise that has been the nation's most watched regional sports network for the past seven years. Most recently, Mr. Steinbrenner teamed with long-time friend and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, creating Legends Hospitality, LLC, a new concession and merchandising company which currently operates at the Yankees' and Cowboys' new stadiums.
In 2006, his participation in the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Yankee Stadium underscored his role as the principal impetus in moving the much-anticipated facility towards its opening in 2009.
Mr. Steinbrenner's tenure of over 37 years exceeded that of any other New York Yankees owner by 13 years (Colonel Jacob Ruppert purchased the Yankees with Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston in January 1915, bought out Huston in 1922, and maintained sole ownership in the club until his death in January 1939 – a total of 24 years). Since Mr. Steinbrenner became Principal Owner, the other 29 Major League clubs had over 100 owners or ownership groups while the Yankees had just one.
Mr. Steinbrenner's success in the sports world began at an early age. He was a multi-sport athlete at Culver Military Academy (where he is in the Athletic Hall of Fame) and at Williams College. He began his successful coaching career as an assistant football coach at two Big Ten universities, Northwestern and Purdue. Then he assembled championship basketball teams in the National Industrial and American Basketball Leagues. In 2002, he was honored with the highly prestigious Gold Medal Award from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame for a lifetime of "outstanding commitment, dedication and dynamic leadership in his business, as well as his personal life."
Mr. Steinbrenner devoted as much time and effort to the U.S. Olympic Committee as he did to his many other sporting endeavors. He was Chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee Foundation (1997-2002) and the Olympic Overview Commission (1988-89) that was created to evaluate the structure and efforts of the U.S. Olympic program. He also served as Vice President of the USOC (1989-96) and was honored with the General Douglas MacArthur USOC Foremost Award and the F. Don Miller United States Olympic Award.
Mr. Steinbrenner was a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame's Board of Directors and served on the NCAA Foundation Board of Trustees since 1990.
Most of Mr. Steinbrenner's philanthropic endeavors were performed without fanfare. However, he was repeatedly recognized by the communities in which he immersed himself. In 1993, he earned the Tampa Civitan Club's "Outstanding Citizen" Award, and in 1998, Tampa Law Enforcement named him "Citizen of the Year" for founding a scholarship fund for the children of slain law enforcement officers. In addition, Mr. Steinbrenner was honored as an "Outstanding New Yorker" by the New York Society of Association Executives in 1997 and credited in 2009 by the Museum of the City of New York as one of the "New York City 400," recognizing "people who have helped create the world's greatest city since its founding in 1609."
In February 2008, the Tampa City Council and the Board of the Hillsborough County Commissioner's Office both passed resolutions endorsing the renaming of Legends Field in Tampa after Mr. Steinbrenner to pay tribute to his numerous contributions to the area. On March 27, 2008, Mr. Steinbrenner – joined by his family – pulled down a curtain draped above the outfield scoreboard to unveil the new name for the Yankees' Spring Training home: George M. Steinbrenner Field.
In the fall of 2009, George M. Steinbrenner High School was opened in Lutz, Fla. The school was named after Mr. Steinbrenner by the Hillsborough County School Board in recognition of his philanthropic involvement in the community, particularly with the school system.