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New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees in 2009.
George M. Steinbrenner III, chairperson and long-time owner of the New York Yankees, died earlier this morning. He was 80 years old.
In a statement, members of his family announced his passing:
He was an incredible and charitable man. 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.
He was a visionary and a giant in the world of sports. He took a great but struggling franchise and turned it into a champion again.
According to several sources, including the Associated Press, The New York Times, and the New York Daily News, Steinbrenner was hospitalized in Tampa, Florida, following a "massive heart attack."
The Times says Steinbrenner "emerged as one of the most powerful, influential and, in the eyes of many, notorious executives in sports."
In its obituary, the Daily News calls him "a towering and intimidating figure who dominated the New York sports scene for 35 years, winning 11 American league pennants and seven world championships as owner of the Yankees, in and around two suspensions from baseball and multiple feuds and firings."
About those suspensions...
In 1974, Steinbrenner pleaded guilty to a felony and a misdemeanor, for conspiring to make illegal contributions to President Richard Nixon's re-election campaign, and for attempts to intimidate his employees. In 1989, he was pardoned by President Ronald Reagan.
"In July 1990, Commissioner Fay Vincent ordered Steinbrenner to step aside as the Yankees' managing partner for making a $40,000 payment to a confessed gambler named Howard Spira in return for Spria's seeking damaging information about [player Dave] Winfield," The Times writes.
Steinbrenner had been displeased with Winfield's performance on the field, and the two had feuded over contributions Steinbrenner was to make to Winfield's philanthropic foundation.
Steinbrenner resumed control of the Yankees in 1993, and three years later they were World Series Champions again, beginning a long run of dominance.
After graduating from Williams College, in Williamstown, Mass., Steinbrenner joined the Air Force, coached football, then returned to Ohio, to work for Kinsman Marine Transit, his family's shipping business.
He amassed a fortune, growing the company. In 1973, Steinbrenner bought the Yankees from CBS.
In 2007, he ceded some of his control of the team to his two sons, Hal and Hank. Recently, Steinbrenner made fewer and fewer appearances in the Bronx, spending most of his time in Florida.
His birthday was on July 4.
According to the Steinbrenner family, funeral arrangements will be private, but there will be an additional public service "with details to be announced at a later date."