NEW YORK // George Steinbrenner is now truly the biggest of the Yankees greats - as measured in Monument Park. The colourful and combative owner was honoured with the largest tribute in the team's area of remembrance behind the centre-field fence. His monument of bronze atop a granite base was unveiled during a solemn ceremony on Monday night attended by many of the stars he had feuded with and fawned over during his tenure of 37 years.
"It's big," Derek Jeter, the Yankees shortstop, said. "Probably just how 'The Boss' wanted it. The biggest one out there." Jeter was asked whether Steinbrenner would have liked that. "No question," the Yankees captain answered. "It probably was his idea." Joe Torre, the former manager, came to Steinbrenner's new US$1.6 billion (Dh5.9bn) Yankee Stadium for the first time, as did Don Mattingly, the former captain, and Torre reconciled with Brian Cashman, the general manager.
Steinbrenner's daughters had tears in their eyes and his widow, Joan, unveiled the monument after being accompanied from home plate in a golf cart by Bud Selig, the baseball commissioner. "Do I think George should be in the Hall of Fame? Of course I do," Selig said. "He changed the sport in a lot of ways." Steinbrenner died on July 13 at the age of 80 after several years of declining health. The tribute came before the first-place Yankees opened a key series with an 8-6 win over second-place Tampa Bay, the team of his adopted hometown.
New York's tribute to Steinbrenner, titled "The Boss", is behind smaller monuments honouring manager Miller Huggins (unveiled in 1932), Lou Gehrig (1941), Babe Ruth (1949), Mickey Mantle (1996) and Joe DiMaggio (1999). Another monument, to the victims and rescue workers of the September 11, 2001, attacks, is on the left-field side of the area. "A true visionary who changed the game of baseball forever," the monument reads. "He was considered the most influential owner in all of sports. In 37 years as principal owner, the Yankees posted a major league-best .566 winning percentage, while winning 11 American League pennants and seven World Series titles, becoming the most recognisable sports brand in the world.
"A devoted sportsman, he was vice president of the United States Olympic Committee, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame's board of directors and a member of the NCAA Foundation board of trustees. A great philanthropist whose charitable efforts were mostly performed without fanfare, he followed a personal motto of the greatest form of charity is anonymity." * Associated Press