On July 13th, 2010, George Steinbrenner died of a heart attack at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Florida, just nine days after his 80th birthday. It was in the early morning hours prior to the 2010 MLB All-Star Game that the New York Yankees family and organization received the news that their long-time owner and leader had passed away.
It was quite an emotional few weeks for the Yankees, as Steinbrenner's passing came just eight days before former Yankee manager Ralph Houk's passing and just two days after long-time Yankee announcer and baseball icon Bob Sheppard had passed.
One of the first people to speak out on behalf of the Yankees organization following Steinbrenner's passing was shortstop Derek Jeter during an All-Star Game interview. Jeter reminisced about his memories of Steinbrenner, his relationship with the Yankee owner and how Steinbrenner treated his players.
"I think he's a father figure to everyone that was in our organization, you know, past or present, because he really took care of his players," Jeter said.
It was not long before family, friends, and other members of the Yankees organization spoke out in support of the Steinbrenner family and with adoration for their late leader.
Now, one year later, Steinbrenner's presence and memory has not faded from Yankee Stadium or the minds of the Yankee faithful. New Yankee Stadium stands in the heart of the Bronx as a landmark of his legacy. If you take a stroll through Monument Park, there hangs, among the greats, a commemorative plaque honoring Steinbrenner's life.
"If you think about our stadium and how beautiful it is, and how big and how fortunate we are to go to work there every day, it has his mark all over it," Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "His legacy will live forever, and I think that stadium is just one big sign of how great this man was."
Steinbrenner was a man who refused to do anything second-rate and never saw losing as an option. He approached every spring training, every draft, every trade and every game with an unquenchable thirst and passion for winning.
"He didn't want to hear excuses," Jeter said. "He wanted to win every single day, which I think I understood a little more than he did, that you can't win 162 games in a row.
Steinbrenner was quoted more than once saying: "Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning second."
Steinbrenner's tenure as the Yankees' owner featured a lot of both, from his unforgettable exchanges huffing and puffing with Dave Winfield and several Yankee managers to his celebrations with players after hoisting the Commissioner's Trophy year after year.
In his 37 years as the New York Yankees owner, the Yankees won 11 American League pennants and seven World Series championships, all while posting a Major League Baseball-best .566 winning percentage (3,364-2,583-3 record).
No one has done a better job of running a successful baseball team in the last 37 years than George Steinbrenner. He brought the New York Yankees from being a struggling franchise under CBS ownership to the most successful and valuable sports franchise in the entire world.
It is hard to believe that just a year ago, the 80-year-old Steinbrenner passed away, but it will be even harder to forget his mark on Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees for as long as I live.