New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner passed away following a massive heart attack this morning in Tampa. He'd celebrated his 80th birthday July 4th.
Steinbrenner bought the ballclub from CBS in 1973. The owner had toned down his blustery management style in recent years and ceded control of the club to his sons and general manager. Under his ownership, the New York Yankees re-emerged as one of the most prestigious sports brands in the world after a long spell of underperforming teams and internecine battles.
Steinbrenner launched the YES (Yankees Entertainment and Sports) Network in 2002. YES shows the bulk of the Yankee games in the No. 1 DMA and original programs such as the Yankeeography interview shows.
Flags at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, the Yankees' spring training facility located close to Steinbrenner's home, are flying at half-mast. "He was iconic," says Elliot Wiser, Bright House VP, corporate news and local programming, whose Bay News 9 channel broke the news of Steinbrenner's death at 9:45 this morning and touched off a firestorm of media reports. "You could make the argument that he's the most famous person in Tampa. His legacy transcends the Yankees."
Steinbrenner's PR rep, Howard Rubenstein, called the so-called "Boss" a "visionary and a giant in the world of sports."
"He was an incredible and charitable man," read the statement. "First and foremost he was devoted to his entire family--his beloved wife, Joan; his sisters, Susan Norpell and Judy Kamm, his children, Hank, Jennifer, Jessica and Hal; and all of his grandchildren."
Steinbrenner will be honored at tonight's All Star Game in Anaheim, Calif., with a pre-game obituary. There will also be a tribute read by Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck after which Buck will ask for a moment of silence before the National Anthem is played.
Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard, who passed away July 11, will also be honored; when Yankees captain Derek Jeter comes to the plate for the first time, the PA will use Sheppard's voice to introduce him.
Look for a post-game interview with Jeter about both Sheppard and Steinbrenner. The post-game will also conclude with an in-memoriam of Steinbrenner.
Stations in New York and Tampa, along with the sports networks, are all over the story. WABC New York will air a Steinbrenner special, called George Steinbrenner: A Yankees Legend, at 7 p.m. tonight. Bright House's Bay News 9 and its sister sports network are combining for a special that both will air tonight. WWOR New York will offer a Steinbrenner tribute following the Yankees-Rays game on WWOR Friday night.
ESPN's SportsCenter is live until 9 with Steinbrenner coverage, while ESPN Classic's tribute started at noon. ESPN dispersed reporters to Yankee Stadium, the Yankee complex in Tampa and even the Yogi Berra museum in New Jersey for commentary. Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani was among those offering their views of the Boss.
ESPN.com is providing insider testimony about Steinbrenner's legacy from anchor Buster Olney, a former Yankees beat writer, along with some emotional perspective from former Yankee star Dave Winfield.
The MLB Network's website is focused on tonight's all-star game, without a Steinbrenner mention as of noon eastern time.
The YES network went live from its Stamford studio with Michael Kay and Jack Curry around 12:45 today, and rebroadcast a 2009 Yankeeography focused on Steinbrenner's life and career.
In a statement, YES called Steinbrenner "a New York icon and a sports icon, a true visionary who will be greatly missed. His vision of a team-owned regional sports network for the Yankees, resulting in the formation of the YES Network, revolutionized the sports business."
NESN.com, located in the heart of Red Sox country, solicited comments from fans of the rival Red Sox. Most saluted Steinbrenner for his love of the game.
"Things would have been very boring in baseball the past few decades without him. RIP"
Yesnetwork.com has a photo of a somber Steinbrenner from 1998 on its homepage, and a photo gallery showing him over the years with notable Yankees such as Reggie Jackson and Winfield. YES also invites users to share their memories of the larger-than-life Boss.
"Thank you Boss," wrote "NYYGuy." "All hail the greatest owner ever."
With Marisa Guthrie
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