Yankees owner George Steinbrenner dies after heart attack

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The Independent Online

George Steinbrenner, the long-time owner of the New York Yankees, has died at the age of 80 following a heart attack.

Steinbrenner, known simply as 'The Boss' throughout the baseball world, was the son of a Cleveland shipping merchant, but became synonymous with New York after buying the storied Yankees franchise in a US dollars 10million deal in 1973.

His tenure saw the team win 11 pennants and seven world series titles, while the franchise's value soared to over US dollars 1billion as Steinbrenner became the first owner to sell TV rights to a cable company, building a huge media empire as an extension of the Yankee organisation.

The colourful Steinbrenner was known to aggressively interfere with the running of his team, particularly in his early years of ownership, and clashed with several general managers and managers - most famously Billy Martin, who he hired and fired five times.

He paid for the best - with the Yankees hugely outspending every other team in Major League Baseball year after year - but demanded the best and quickly dispensed with anyone he did not believe could lead them to success.

He did scale back his involvement in later years, and as his health began to fail him, he handed over control of the Yankees to his sons Hal and Hank in 2007.

His public appearances became rare as he spent the majority of his time in Florida, but he was driven around Yankee Stadium on a golf cart when the old ballpark hosted the All-Star Game in 2008, its final season before demolition.

In April this year, he was present at the new Yankee Stadium and was presented with his 2009 World Series Championship ring in his suite by team captain Derek Jeter and manager Joe Girardi.

Here are five facts about the man known as "The Boss" for his colorful, contentious style at the helm of the legendary baseball team and the most successful U.S. sports franchise:

* Steinbrenner invested in Broadway plays, beginning with the eventual flop "The Ninety Day Mistress" but including the 1974 Tony Award nominee for Best Musical, "Seesaw." He also owned thoroughbred horses.

* Known for his generosity, Steinbrenner paid for poor children's college tuition, helped families of fallen police officers in Tampa and New York and rebuilt a ball field in a poor neighborhood.

* While owner of the Cleveland Pipers of the American Basketball League, Steinbrenner signed Ohio State All-American Jerry Lucas, the top prospect in the country. This prevented Lucas from going to the rival National Basketball Association.

* Steinbrenner made sports history by hiring John McLendon for the Pipers, making him the first African-American head coach in professional sports.

* According to biographer Peter Golenbock, Steinbrenner sold stock owned by his wife Joan without her knowledge to keep his basketball team afloat. Joan Steinbrenner had begun divorce proceedings against George but the divorce filing was later rescinded and they remain married.