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Steinbrenner talkative in ambulance

12/27/2003 - New York Yankees

SARASOTA, Fla. -- New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner
fainted Saturday at a memorial service for football great Otto
Graham and was hospitalized in stable condition, an emergency
official said.

"Right now, he's fine," Paul Dezzi of the Sarasota County Fire
Department told The Associated Press.

"He fainted. When we arrived, he was alert and oriented. He was
very talkative in the ambulance," he said. "He was stable."

The 73-year-old Steinbrenner was taken to Sarasota Memorial
Hospital. He was given oxygen, an electrocardiogram and intravenous
fluids in the ambulance, Dezzi said.

Based on the preliminary tests, "Everything showed up fine,"
Dezzi said.

"There's nothing obvious from our side," he said. "I just
talked to someone who was with him in the hospital, and Mr.
Steinbrenner seemed OK."

Sarasota Herald-Tribune columnist Doug Fernandes said he was
about 20 feet away when Steinbrenner fell during a slide show. The
presentation, prepared by Graham's grandchildren and shown at a
reception, featured pictures of Steinbrenner and Graham together.

"He went to reach for a chair but he missed, and he went
face-first into the carpet," Fernandes said. "People were
stunned. They started loosening his tie and his collar. He was out
for a few seconds. By the time they wheeled him out, his color had
returned."

Temperatures were normal for this time of year, in the mid-70s.
The reception room was full.

Graham, a longtime friend of Steinbrenner, died Dec. 17. The
Hall of Fame quarterback was 82.

Hospital spokeswoman Lynn Cassan did not comment to the AP,
citing patient confidentiality.

Yankees spokesman Rick Cerrone said he had no information on
Steinbrenner. Team president Randy Levine had no immediate comment,
and Steinbrenner publicist Howard Rubenstein did not immediately
return telephone calls.

A small group of Yankees officials that did not include
Steinbrenner left the hospital at 11:35 p.m., but none would
comment. No further details were expected Saturday night.

Steinbrenner, who has owned the Yankees since 1973, lives in
Tampa, about 60 miles north of Sarasota.

Steinbrenner grew up in Cleveland, and later became longtime
friends with Graham, the Browns' star quarterback from 1946-55.
They were golfing partners, attended banquets together and helped
each other with charity events.

In 1959, boosted by Steinbrenner's recommendation, Graham became
athletic director and football coach at the U.S. Coast Guard
Academy.

Almost two decades later, Steinbrenner got a call from the old
quarterback's family. Graham had suffered a seizure, and
Steinbrenner rushed up to see him at the Coast Guard in New London,
Conn.

"I saw him and told him, 'You can't go now! You're not going to
get out of the game that easily!' " Steinbrenner recalled the night
Graham died. "Fortunately, he recovered and we had him for many
more years."