Steinbrenner as Much a Yankee as Ruth, Mantle, Bud Selig Says

George Steinbrenner will be remembered for being as much a part of the New York Yankees as Hall of Fame players Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said.

Steinbrenner, who owned the Yankees while they won seven of their 27 World Series championships, died today of a heart attack at the age of 80.

“George was a giant of the game and his devotion to baseball was surpassed only by his devotion to his family and his beloved New York Yankees,” Selig said in a statement. “He was and always will be as much of a New York Yankee as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and all of the other Yankee legends.”

The Yankees said they’ll wear patches on their uniforms for the rest of the season to recognize the passing of Steinbrenner and Yankee Stadium announcer Bob Sheppard, who died two days ago at the age of 99.

Steinbrenner’s commemorative patch will be on the left breast of the uniform, while Sheppard’s will be on the left sleeve.

Following are comments and reaction on Steinbrenner’s death:

Steve Tisch, chairman of National Football League’s New York Giants:

“George Steinbrenner was a dynamic personality in sports and in business. He was the ultimate competitor in both worlds. All of us in the business of sports want to win; that is the objective. George personified that ambition.”

Woody Johnson, chairman and chief executive of NFL’s New York Jets:

“I will remember him as a winner whose passion and enthusiasm became part of the fabric of New York City. He was an inspiration and represented the essence of leadership.”

Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York:

“This is a sad day not only for Yankee fans, but for our entire city, as few people have had a bigger impact on New York over the past four decades than George 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. 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.”

Derek Jeter, Yankees’ shortstop (1995-current)

“I’ve known him since I was 18 years old. It’s tough because he’s more than just an owner, he’s a friend. He’ll be deeply missed. He was a father figure to everyone who was in our organization, past or present, because he really took care of his players -- whether it was the player on the team now or someone who played for him for a week 30 years ago.”

Yogi Berra, Yankees Hall of Fame catcher:

“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.”

Joe Torre, Yankees manager (1996-2007):

“I will always remember George Steinbrenner as a passionate man, a tough boss, a true visionary, a great humanitarian, and a dear friend. I will be forever grateful that he trusted me with his Yankees for 12 years. It’s only fitting that he went out as a world champ.”

Don Mattingly, Yankees first baseman (1982-95):

“I remember a man driven to succeed. He was the owner, ‘The Boss’ and number one fan of the Yankees. Our relationship was built on mutual respect. I will never forget and always be grateful for how he treated me and my family both during my playing days and after I retired.”

Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz and Jeff Wilpon, New York Mets owners:

“The passing of George Steinbrenner marks the end of an era in New York City baseball history. George was a larger than life figure and a force in the industry. 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.”

Darryl Strawberry, Yankees player (1995-99):

“He was like a father I never had. He encouraged me when I got knocked down and was still there to pick me up. I have nothing but great respect for him. I will always be grateful of the opportunities he gave me to be part of the Yankee organization.”

David Paterson, governor of New York:

“Opposing players and fans may have bristled at his outspoken leadership over the years, but it was only because they wished they had a Steinbrenner of their own.”

Jerry Jones, owner of NFL’s Dallas Cowboys:

“First and foremost this man was a winner. From a person with my perspective, he was an inspiration in the area of doing everything possible -- within the rules -- to win.”

Michael Weiner, executive director of MLB 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.”

Larry Probst, chairman of U.S. Olympic Committee:

“His impact on sports supersedes baseball and the New York Yankees. His work on behalf of the U.S. Olympic Committee and in particular U.S. Olympic athletes continues to affect the way the USOC conducts business today. The Steinbrenner report in 1989 revolutionized the USOC’s sport-performance philosophy, and a generation of Olympians have benefited as a result.”

Archie Manning, National Football Foundation chairman:

“His service and commitment to our organization played a significant role in our ability to touch the lives of countless young student-athletes. From his playing days at Williams College to his coaching days at Purdue and Northwestern, it was clear that George Steinbrenner was a product of the gridiron.”

Glazer family, owner of NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

“George was one of the most consequential and colorful executives in sports history. He helped restore his proud franchise to its unique place in sports and society. However, his greatest contributions weren’t those that graced the sports page. He was a caring, gentle giant in our community.”

Aaron Boone, Yankees player (2003):

“He was going to do everything possible to put the best team out on the field and he was going to do everything he could to put you in a position to win. As a player to go into that kind of situation, that kind of scenario, that’s all you could ask from an owner.”

Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of NBA’s New Jersey Nets:

“He was more than a legend in the world of baseball; he was a man with true global impact. Mr. Steinbrenner was also a co-owner of the Nets during their most successful period in the NBA. For new franchise owners like myself, he was a model of how to build a dynasty team and what can be achieved if you have enough heart and vision. He was an absolute original.”

Bill Clinton, former president, and wife Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. secretary of state:

“George was a fierce competitor who was the perfect fit for the city that never sleeps -- colorful, dynamic and always reaching for the stars. His Yankees brought home seven World Series championships and provided inspiration and entertainment to people in New York and around the world. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, when New York needed it most, George and the Yankees helped lift our battered spirits. He was born on the Fourth of July and loved his country even more than his team.”

Jerry Seinfeld, comedian:

“Who else could be a memorable character on a television show without actually appearing on the show? You felt George even though he wasn’t even there. That’s how huge a force of personality he was.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

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