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George was The Boss, make no mistake,” said Berra, the Hall of Famer who ended a 14-year feud with Steinbrenner in 1999. “He built the Yankees into champions, and that’s something nobody can ever deny. He was a very generous, caring, passionate man. George and I had our differences, but who didn’t? We became great friends over the last decade and I will miss him very much.”

Steinbrenner’s death, about 14 hours before the first pitch of the All-Star game in Anaheim, Calif., was the second in three days to rock the Yankees. Bob Sheppard, the team’s revered public address announcer from 1951-07, died Sunday at 99.

A video tribute was shown and players bowed their heads during a moment of silence before the national anthem was played at Angel Stadium. Jeter and the Yankees wore black armbands, and the U.S., Canadian and California flags were lowered to half-staff.

New York was 11 years removed from its last championship when Steinbrenner, then an obscure son of an Ohio shipbuilder, headed a group that bought the team from CBS Inc. on Jan. 3, 1973, for about $8.7 million net.

Forbes now values the Yankees at $1.6 billion, trailing only Manchester United ($1.8 billion) and the Dallas Cowboys ($1.65 billion).

Former commissioner Fay Vincent, who fought many battles with Steinbrenner, said his legacy would be turning the Yankees “into an absolute gold mine and a monster of power and success in baseball.”

“He was one of the few who realized this was an iconic franchise, and he could turn it into something really special, and he did,” Vincent said.

Steinbrenner ruled with obsessive dedication to detail _ from trades to the airblowers that kept his ballparks spotless. When he thought the club’s parking lot was too crowded, Steinbrenner stood on the pavement _ albeit behind a van, out of sight _ and had a guard check every driver’s credential.

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, including a 15-month ban in 1974 after pleading guilty to conspiring to make illegal contributions to the re-election campaign of President Richard Nixon. Steinbrenner was fined $15,000 and later pardoned by President Ronald Reagan.

He also was banned for 2 1/2 years for paying self-described gambler Howie Spira to obtain negative information on outfielder Dave Winfield, with whom Steinbrenner was feuding.

Through it all, 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.

Steinbrenner was in fragile health for the past 6 1/2 years, resulting in fewer public appearances and pronouncements. He fainted at a memorial service for NFL great Otto Graham in December 2003, appeared weak in August 2006 when he spoke briefly at the groundbreaking for the new stadium, and became ill while watching his granddaughter in a college play in North Carolina that October. At this year’s spring training, he used a wheelchair and needed aides to hold him during the national anthem.

As his health declined, Steinbrenner let sons Hal and Hank run more of the family business. He turned over formal control of the Yankees to Hal in November 2008.

Dressed in his trademark navy blue blazer and white turtleneck, however, he was the model of success.

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