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Originally published July 13, 2010 at 7:58 PM | Page modified July 13, 2010 at 9:25 PM

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Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, 80, changed baseball with bombastic style

Steinbrenner, who died of a heart attack in Florida, rebuilt the New York Yankees dynasty, ushering in the era of multimillion-dollar salaries and accepting nothing less in return than World Series championships. His Yankees won seven World Series and 11 American League pennants.

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — He was baseball's bombastic Boss.

He rebuilt the New York Yankees dynasty, ushering in the era of multimillion-dollar salaries and accepting nothing less in return than World Series championships.

He fired managers. Rehired them. And fired them again.

He butted heads with commissioners and fellow owners, insulted his players and dominated tabloid headlines — even upstaging the All-Star Game on the day of his death.

George Michael Steinbrenner III, who both inspired and terrorized the Yankees in more than three decades as owner, died Tuesday of a heart attack at age 80.

"He was and always will be as much of a New York Yankee as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and all of the other Yankee legends," baseball commissioner Bud Selig said.

Once reviled by fans for his overbearing and tempestuous nature, Mr. Steinbrenner mellowed in his final decade and became beloved by employees and rivals alike for his success.

Mr. Steinbrenner was taken from his home to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Fla., and died about 6:30 a.m Eastern, a person close to the owner told The Associated Press.

"George was a fierce competitor who was the perfect fit for the city that never sleeps — colorful, dynamic and always reaching for the stars," former President Bill Clinton said.

Yankees captain Derek Jeter added: "He expected perfection."

In 37 ½ years as owner, Mr. Steinbrenner whipped a moribund $10 million team into a $1.6 billion colossus that became the model of a modern franchise, one with its own TV network and ballpark food business.

Under his often brutal but always colorful reign, the Yankees won seven World Series championships, 11 American League pennants and 16 AL East titles, going on spectacular spending sprees that caused Larry Lucchino, president of the rival Boston Red Sox, to dub Mr. Steinbrenner's Yankees the "Evil Empire."

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But he also tried to make up for his temper with good deeds and often-unpublicized charitable donations.

His rule was interrupted by two lengthy suspensions.

Through it all, Mr. Steinbrenner lived up to his billing as "The Boss," a nickname he clearly enjoyed as he ruled with an iron fist. While he lived in Florida in his later years, he was a staple on the front pages of New York newspapers with his tirades.

"He was truly the most influential and innovative owner in all of sports," former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said.

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