The All-Star Game just offered a moment of silence in tribute to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Since news of the larger-than-life figure's death this morning, past and present players, managers, colleagues, and politicians have been offering their condolences to the Steinbrenner family and thoughts on The Boss. Yogi Berra, who was fired as manager after just 16 games in 1985, said today, "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."
Berra and Steinbrenner were estranged until 1999 (Berra refused to go to Yankees games), when The Boss visited Berra's museum in Montclair, NJ and said, "It’s the worst mistake I’ve made in my life," and Berra forgave him. The NY Times reports that Berra had hoped the see Steinbrenner at this Saturday's Old Timers' Game.
Yankees captain Derek Jeter said, during an All-Star press conference, that he found out when he "woke up and had a lot of messages" and was "shocked to say the least. I don't know if you can really put it into words. It's sad, but you're just shocked."
I have a great relationship with the boss. I've known him since I was 18 years old. You know, obviously there's a respect factor because he's the owner and you know, I work for him, but we were more friends than anything. I'd go visit him in the off-season because we both live in Tampa. We would have bets on Ohio State/Michigan football games. I've been in trouble a couple times. We've filmed commercials with him dancing. It's tough, because he's more than just an owner to me. He's a friend of mine. He will be deeply missed...
You can't say enough good things about him. Most people know him as being this vocal owner, but if you really got an opportunity to know him, you got to realize not only the great things he did with the community but with the past players and current players.
A former manager who had a lot of success with Steinbrenner and then an ugly parting, Joe Torre, now manager for the Dodgers, said, "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. My heart goes out to his entire family. He will be deeply missed in New York, Tampa and throughout the world of baseball. It’s only fitting that he went out as a world champ."
Don Mattingly, the longtime Yankee first baseman and coach said, "His vision, passion and commitment to winning, recharged the New York Yankees and revolutionized the game. 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."
Former mayor and huge Yankees fan (except when running for President) Rudy Giuliani said, "George was a friend of mine for over 30 years. He was truly the most influential and innovative owner in all of sports. He transformed baseball and sports broadcasting wit hthe YES Network and brought New York seven World Series. Beyond that, he made the Yankees a source of great pride in being a New Yorker. George Steinbrenner's Yankees represent the will to overcome all odds which is precisely the will New Yorkers display when meeting every challenge they face. George will be greatly missed but his legacy will carry on in the hearts and minds of all baseball fans."
Mayor Bloomberg offered these words:
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 and its position as the most successful franchise in the history of American sports. He was a champion who made New York a better place, and who always gave back to the city he loved. He has left an indelible legacy on the Yankees, on baseball, and on our city, and he leaves us in the only way that would be appropriate: as a reigning world champion.
Here are more thoughts about Steinbrenner from politicians including Senators Schumer and Gillibrand.
And former Yankee Darryl Strawberry told Fox Business News' Neil Cavuto, "He paid more than anybody else would pay for players. He felt like he had the right to say what he wanted to say. When players didn’t perform at a certain level at certain spots, he was going to let them know. I don’t blame him... He was very demanding. That’s one thing I could appreciate about him. Why not, you are playing for the New York Yankees.” Strawberry added, "What he believed in was winning. I don’t think people can understand that. We understood it. I’m always grateful for him as a friend to me. He was the only one when I was out of baseball that came and got me and said I belong in New York and I will never forget that.”