By RON LAJOIE
George Steinbrenner, the principal owner of the New York Yankees, died July 12 at his home in Tampa, Fla., at age 80. He was remembered by Archbishop Dolan as a man of "extraordinary kindness and generosity."
"When I was a young boy and budding baseball fan growing up in St. Louis, everybody knew the great New York Yankees," the archbishop said in a statement. "Even when they were your opponent, they were a team to be admired and respected. That is why it was a great joy to have been invited by Mr. Steinbrenner to join him in his box for the grand opening of the new Yankee Stadium in April 2009 as well as for the World Series game last October. They were experiences I'll never forget.
"I've since learned that such acts of kindness were much in keeping with the family's generosity. Following the earthquake in Haiti this past January, the Steinbrenners and the New York Yankees responded immediately with a $225,000 donation to Catholic Relief Services.
"Of course, the Archdiocese of New York will never forget Mr. Steinbrenner's tremendous goodness in arranging for Yankee Stadium to welcome Pope John Paul II in 1979 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 for the holy sacrifice of the Mass."
Steinbrenner had a long association with the Archdiocese. In February 1999 he presented a check for $100,000 to the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) at the annual CYO Club of Champions Dinner. Steinbrenner, speaking at the dinner, called the nation's youth its "greatest national resource" and said that if young people were given the opportunity to pursue excellence, "they will excel."
Over the years Steinbrenner also made substantial donations to ITV, the instructional television service for schools of the archdiocese, including use of a Yankee Stadium luxury box, for meetings prior to the annual ITV LPGA pro-am golf tournament. During the 1970s he also donated proceeds from the annual Yankees welcome home luncheon to ITV.
Cardinal Egan, Archbishop Emeritus, also expressed his condolences to the Steinbrenners.
"Just a few days ago I wrote a letter to Mr. George Steinbrenner to wish him a happy 80th birthday," Cardinal Egan said in a statement. "George Steinbrenner was not only a marvelous leader of the New York Yankees, he was also an exemplary citizen of our community...May the Lord console his beloved family in their loss and grant him, 'The Boss,' eternal rest."
Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees in 1973 and turned the then-struggling team into one of the winningest, wealthiest and most famous sports franchises in the world. The Yankees won seven World Series titles during his stewardship.
The Steinbrenner family said funeral arrangements would be private. They said a public service would be held at a later time.