George Steinbrenner George Steinbrenner

Longtime New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who transformed the dormant franchise into a dynasty, has died. He was 80.

Steinbrenner died Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. in Tampa, Fla., his spokesman, Howard Rubenstein, said in a statement from the Steinbrenner family.

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"He was a visionary and a giant in the world of sports," the statement read. "He took a great but struggling franchise and turned it into a champion again."

A moment of silence — accompanied by a montage of photos — was held for Steinbrenner before the start of major league baseball's all-star game Tuesday.

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Steinbrenner turned 80 on July 4.

Steinbrenner, whose health had been fragile in recent years, suffered a massive heart attack and was rushed to Tampa's St. Joseph's Hospital Monday night, according to New York ABC affiliate WABC.

His death comes two days after the team's public-address announcer Bob Sheppard died at 99.

Under Steinbrenner's ownership since 1973 — the longest tenure in MLB history — the Yankees won seven World Series trophies, most recently in 2009, and 11 American League pennants.

A Cleveland native, Steinbrenner, then chairman of a shipping company, bought the Yankees from CBS for $8.8 million on Jan. 3, 1973, saying he intended to be an absentee owner.

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But he soon emerged as "The Boss." With his win-at-all-costs style, he aggressively molded the struggling team into a World Series champion in four years through the free-agent market.

Living up to his nickname, the bombastic Steinbrenner famously clashed with general managers and players, including Yogi Berra, and notoriously rotated his staff with ease.

Still, he was not afraid to laugh at himself: With his permission, Steinbrenner was parodied on Seinfeld — though his face was never seen — when George Costanza (Jason Alexander) worked for the Yankees. Lee Bear portrayed the character, while Larry David voiced him.
"No one knows what this guy's capable of; he fires people like it's a bodily function!" George once said of Steinbrenner.

Steinbrenner also hosted Saturday Night Live in 1990 and appeared as himself on Arli$$ and The Apprentice.

He was portrayed by Oliver Platt in the 2007 ESPN miniseries The Bronx Is Burning, which chronicled the road to the Yankees' first World Series title under Steinbrenner.

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Steinbrenner's reign was not without controversy: He served two suspensions, the first in 1974 after pleading guilty to making illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon's presidential campaign, and the second in 1990 for paying gambler Howie Spira in exchange for damaging information on Dave Winfield.

In 2007, Steinbrenner gave day-to-day control of the Yankees to his sons, Hal and Hank.

Steinbrenner made infrequent public appearances in recent years. He attended the opening game at the team's new stadium in 2009 and made his final appearance at the 2010 home opener.

The Yankees today are valued at $1.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Steinbrenner is survived by his wife, Joan; his sisters, Susan Norpell and Judy Kamm; his children, Hank, Jennifer, Jessica and Hal; and several grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements will be private. A public service will be announced at a later date.