Boss' house: Yanks' spring home renamed for Steinbrenner
TAMPA, Fla. -- George Steinbrenner is in the owner's box and on the field now.
The New York Yankees' spring training home was renamed George M. Steinbrenner Field during pregame ceremonies Thursday.
An emotional Steinbrenner, the Yankees' owner and Tampa resident, helped pull the cover off a new sign above the scoreboard in left field. He then rode in a golf cart past a standing ovation from the fans and applause by the Pittsburgh Pirates as he went to the plate area to watch his wife, Joan, throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
"It was great," Steinbrenner said. "It was a great ceremony."
Plans to change the name of Legends Field came after both the Tampa City Council and Hillsborough County Commission approved resolutions calling for the honor.
Steinbrenner's two sons, Yankees general partners Hank and Hal, also took part, along with other family members.
"I think he was emotional, without a doubt," Hal Steinbrenner said. "It's an emotional day. We've been here over 30 years as part of the community. It's a great honor."
Hank Steinbrenner also was happy with the ceremony.
"When we told him about a month ago, in the past he would have resisted it, we told him it was something the city wanted to do, and he got very emotional," Hank Steinbrenner said. "He was emotional today as well."
George Steinbrenner also will be honored in 2009 when a Hillsborough County School District high school named for him will open.
"It's pretty amazing when high schools get named after you," Hank Steinbrenner said.
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A number of Yankees players, including captain Derek Jeter, talked with George Steinbrenner when he was near the first-base dugout at the end of the ceremony.
"He's kind of a legend, especially to some of these younger players, they never really had much contact with him," Hank Steinbrenner said. "It's pretty cool for them."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has talked a number of times with the Boss during spring training.
"We talk about his young players. He talks about his veteran players," Girardi said. "It's always been encouraging."
In other news, Hank Steinbrenner defended third baseman Alex Rodriguez after Jose Canseco claimed he introduced the three-time MVP to a steroids dealer. The allegation was in an excerpt from Canseco's upcoming book, "Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars, and The Battle to Save Baseball," that was posted on deadspin.com and then removed.
A-Rod refused to address the allegation Wednesday.
"We're not going to let it affect the Yankees," Hank Steinbrenner said. "Alex, hopefully won't let it affect him or his family. There's a lot of that going around. It seems like in this country nowadays anybody can make an accusation and it's all over the country.
"If Mickey Mantle was playing today, or [Willie] Mays was playing today, or [Babe] Ruth was playing today, or [Hank] Aaron was playing today, everybody would be saying they were doing drugs. In fact, a couple of them, Mantle and Ruth, lived on alcohol."
Hank Steinbrenner added that Rodriguez is just a "natural" baseball player.
"It's just that simple," he said.
George, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner are planning to attend the Yankees' regular-season opener against Toronto on Monday in New York. As usual, winning the World Series is the goal.
"I'd love to win this year, and we might," Hank Steinbrenner said.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press