Remembering Yankees Co-Owner Hank Steinbrenner

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From left: George, Hank and Hal Steinbrenner were depicted together on this piece of work.
(Photo source: Ray Materson/Flickr)

Hank Steinbrenner, co-chairperson and general partner of the New York Yankees, died on April 14 at the age of 63.

The legendary man in the front office was known for a demeanor similar to that of his father, but was often criticized for his leadership ability with the Yankees organization.

“Hank was a genuine and gentle spirit who treasured the deep relationships he formed with those closest to him,” the Steinbrenner family said in a team-released statement on the day of his death. “He was introduced to the Yankees organization at a very young age, and his love for sports and competition continued to burn brightly throughout his life. Hank could be direct and outspoken, but in the very same conversation show great tenderness and light-heartedness.”

And it was his directness that led him to run the team at times, namely in 2007 and 2008, serving as the family’s voice. But younger brother Hal Steinbrenner was named as the managing general partner, putting Hank in the bullpen.

His official name, Henry George Steinbrenner III, pays homage to the family’s legacy. He carried on the name to his son, George Michael Steinbrenner IV, who became the owner of an IndyCar Series team at the age of 22 thanks to the support of Hank.

“We’re a close family and we’re all very supportive of what each other does,” the younger Steinbrenner said last  June. “It’s great that way. I don’t know if setting myself apart is what I want. It’s not just the name George Steinbrenner in it. I want to bring the Steinbrenner name as a whole to Indy car racing, and I want to have success in the sport.”

At the time, he touched on his father’s “great health.” But since then, he had a long battle with an undisclosed illness.

Throughout the last decade, Hank stepped back from his public persona. Once known as making fun of the Boston Red Sox, he was not shy about criticizing anyone outside of the organization. He simply had no filter, and that was the way he liked it.

The eldest of four children, he served as a general partner with the team for 13 years. His philanthropy could be seen away from Yankee Stadium, creating Hank’s Yanks in 2009 to help amateur baseball players get drafted by professional teams. He also formed a partnership in the early 2000s with NHRA drag racer Darrell Gwynn to former Gwynn/Steinbrenner Yankee Racing.

Steinbrenner was also heavily involved in the family’s Florida-based horse business, where he lived in the latter portion of his life.

“Ever since I can remember, my dad has always been my biggest supporter,” his son said on Twitter. “He taught me determination, confidence and the desire to win above all else. I will forever be grateful for all the lessons he taught me.”

Steinbrenner is survived by his children, Jacqueline, Julia, John and George, as well as granddaughter Anabel and his three younger siblings.

The Yankees said donations in Steinbrenner’s name can be made to the Friends of Joshua House Foundation. Visit www.friendsofjoshuahouse.org for more information.

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