LEE COUNTY, Fla.-- "The Yankee family must be hurting right now," said Ron Santos of the death of team owner George Steinbrenner. He died of a heart attack in Tampa, at the age of 80.
"He did so much for baseball, and yeah, some did not like him because he tried to get the best players from every team for New York," said Santos, a former college baseball player who is living now in Fort Myers. "He gave to the game and fans, he gave them a winning team, a mega-dynasty."
Bill Hammond, asst. Lee Co. Manager, also remembered Steinbrenner. The Twins spring training stadium in S. Ft. Myers is named for Hammond. "I met him a number of times, he was very open and friendly. Always a smile and handshake and a 'nice to see you.' But he had an entourage around him always, so I never talked with him about substantive issues," said Hammond.
He did gain insight into Steinbrenner's personality through Dick Howser. He was a good friend of Hammond, and Howser managed the Yankees for 1 year. "Howser dealt with Mr. Steinbrenner almost minute to minute. Even when Mr. Steinbrenner was in Tampa, he would get a phone line to the dugout and call and ask: why he did certain things," saId Hammond. "I know Dick wanted to manage the team himself, but Mr. Steinbrenner really wanted to put on the uniform and be in the dugout. That's how close to the game he was," Hammond added in an interview with WINK.
Hammond says, Steinbrenner's legacy will be large. "He was very generous with charities, more so than most people know. He was great for the game, he gave a lot to baseball," said Hammond.