Yanks unveil Steinbrenner monument
NEW YORK -- Dwarfing all the honorees in the historic park that now sits behind the center field wall at the new Yankee Stadium, George Steinbrenner's monument is at least twice the size of the ones for Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio.
In a ceremony Monday, the Yankees unveiled the mammoth monument to Steinbrenner, who passed away two months ago at the age of 80.
"There are not that many monuments here," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "The Boss deserves one as much as anyone."
Shortly after 7 p.m., the Steinbrenner family took the field between the white interlocking "NY" and the dirt behind home plate. Next, Joan Steinbrenner, George's widow, was escorted by commissioner Bud Selig and his wife to join them.
Following a video tribute, all the current Yankees and the Steinbrenner family walked out to Monument Park, where Joan Steinbrenner revealed the contents of the first new monument at the new Yankee Stadium. The monument itself is 7 feet wide by 5 feet tall, not including the base. The team said it weighs 760 pounds.
"Do I think George should be in the Hall of Fame? Of course I do," Selig said. "He changed the sport in a lot of ways."
"A true visionary who changed the game of baseball forever," the monument reads. "He was considered the most influential owner in all of sports. In 37 years as principal owner, the Yankees posted a major league-best .566 winning percentage, while winning 11 American League pennants and seven World Series titles, becoming the most recognizable sports brand in the world.
"A devoted sportsman, he was vice president of the United States Olympic Committee, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame's board of directors and a member of the NCAA Foundation board of trustees. A great philanthropist whose charitable efforts were mostly performed without fanfare, he followed a personal motto of the greatest form of charity is anonymity."
While the return of Joe Torre and Don Mattingly received the most attention, former Yankees from Reggie Jackson to Yogi Berra were also in attendance. Frank Sinatra Jr. sang the national anthem.
"We are grateful to have been able to share this night with so many special people who brought fulfillment to our father's life," the Steinbrenner family said in a statement. "To see all of the distinguished Yankees alumni, friends and family gathered with us was a meaningful tribute to him.
"Our father always believed that this organization was an extension of his family, and he felt our fans were the heartbeat and soul of this baseball team. His unrelenting vision and passion for success was unmatched, and we are humbled that his likeness will forever greet the people he cared so deeply for in Monument Park.
"We would like to thank everyone who came out to support our father and the Yankees tonight. He was a proud owner, but he was also a great husband, father and grandfather to us."
Andy Pettitte said: "It was one of those pretty cool moments to be a part of."
With a crowd looking on that included Donald Trump, Torre received the loudest cheers as he was shown three times on the giant video board, and Mattingly -- who will succeed Torre next season as Los Angeles Dodgers manager -- got the second-loudest applause.
"George is responsible for really the best years of my life professionally," said Torre, who managed the Yankees to four of their seven World Series titles under Steinbrenner. "Did we get along all the time? No. But it never lasted very long that we, you know, disagreed."
Mattingly recalled how Steinbrenner dispatched a plane to Indiana for him when the first baseman's back ailed. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman remembered how Steinbrenner's mere presence upped the tension at old Yankee Stadium.
"Before text messages, Internet, cell phones and things of that nature, you didn't know what his travel schedule was. He liked to surprise people all the time," Cashman said. "You'd walk into that facility, and you could feel within two steps into the lobby that The Boss was here. Some people say in the parking lot you could feel it."
Without Steinbrenner, the Yankees' culture has changed.
"He was the ticket director, the marketing manager, the general manager, the manager in the dugout, the stadium operations guy," Cashman said. "He ran everything, and he told everybody what to do. He was the department head of it all. And now you need I can't tell you how many people to replace him."
Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.