George Steinbrenner's charity will last beyond his death

TAMPA — George Steinbrenner was nearly as famous for his charity as his temper, but his death does not mean the giving will stop.

To the contrary, foundations Steinbrenner set up over the years are expected to continue giving, just as he did, to help youngsters and build the community.

"His family's still going to be involved in the community," said Phil McNiff, the longtime right-hand man to the legendary New York Yankees owner. "I'm sure they will support organizations that he did."

In Tampa Bay, they already do.

The New York Yankees Tampa Foundation donates up to $1 million a year, with grants going to local groups, banquets for youth sports coaches and holiday concerts featuring the Florida Orchestra for poor children.

Steinbrenner, who died Tuesday at age 80, had not served on the board of the Yankees Tampa foundation since 2006, according to public tax filings. In recent years, the foundation has been run largely by his four children, particularly his daughter, Jennifer Steinbrenner, 50, of Tampa.

Like her dad, Jennifer Steinbrenner graduated from the Culver academies in Indiana. After getting a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina in 1981, she worked in the Yankees' public relations office.

The Yankees Tampa foundation's directors also include a handful of influential Tampa business and civic leaders, including McNiff, Monsignor Laurence Higgins, Judge Manuel Menendez and stockbroker James Warren.

The Yankees foundation for Tampa — there's a bigger one for New York — earns virtually all of its $1 million-plus in annual revenue from the Yankees fantasy baseball camp.

In addition to the holiday concerts and coaches banquets, much of the money is disbursed through small grants to schools, charities and civic groups. In 2007, the foundation made more than 200 such grants totalling nearly $550,000.

The smallest was $100 for an ad on a Plant High School calendar. The biggest was $50,000 for a home for abused children in West Tampa.

In between came money for kids' music programs, veterans, firefighters, drug treatment, college baseball, adoption services, charity golf tournaments, band boosters, cancer research, toys for tots, parenting programs, hospice groups, the YMCA and funeral expenses to bury someone in need.

"His emphasis was usually on youth," McNiff said. "I'm sure it's going to continue to perform like it has in the past."

• • •

George Steinbrenner was legendary for his spontaneous acts of charity, but he also took deliberate steps to create sustaining support for good causes.

Take the Boys & Girls Clubs.

The spontaneous: In 1991, Steinbrenner was on his way to play golf in Ocala when he drove up on a Boys & Girls Clubs bus broken down on Interstate 75. He stopped, spent $200 on lunch at McDonald's, called in another bus, then sent them on to Busch Gardens.

The sustaining: The Yankees' annual Boys & Girls Clubs luncheon is one of Tampa's biggest charity events of the year, raising $300,000 for the clubs.

Every Yankee from A-Rod to Yogi shows up to mingle with fans and sign autographs — it's understood to be a command performance — so every year eager autograph seekers snap up the $300 to $500 tickets in less than five minutes.

Steinbrenner likewise saw opportunities for philanthropy where others did not.

In 1996, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla crowned Steinbrenner its 83rd king.

Right away, he made changes in the kingdom.

"Starting the Gasparilla Foundation was his idea, and he kicked it off in grand style," Warren said. "He didn't think our reach ran far enough. He thought we were purely social and self-aggrandizing. He wanted a philanthropic bent as well."

So Steinbrenner dedicated proceeds from one spring training game a year for five years to seed the foundation, and the krewe has organized golf and fishing tournaments to raise more money.

Now the Gasparilla Foundation awards college scholarships to deserving Hillsborough high school students based on academics, athletics and community involvement.

After founding and endowing the Gold Shield Foundation in 1981, Steinbrenner made key contributions over the years to help it grow.

The foundation, which now operates in seven counties, pays college expenses for the spouses and children of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty. It has seen two spouses and more than a dozen children graduate from college. One spouse and three more children are currently enrolled.

Because of continuing support that Steinbrenner helped round up, it's here to stay.

"I don't want anyone to think that because Mr. Steinbrenner's not with us anymore that this is going away," executive director Joe Voskerichian said.

• • •

At the University of South Florida, Steinbrenner was a steady contributor — to athletics, to the arts, to scholarships — going back to the 1970s.

USF Foundation chief executive officer Joel Momberg said he hopes others see Steinbrenner as a role model who understood the need for philanthropy.

"In this economy, fundraising is really tough, so you need all the philanthropists you can get," Momberg said. "You really hope that people will also give in his name. I hope that's what lives on about him, too."

Richard Danielson can be reached at danielson@sptimes.com.

Karl Glendenning, 20, and his mother Sarah Glendenning, 47, of Vandalia, Ohio, leave a message of condolence Wednesday to the Steinbrenner family at International Plaza in Tampa. Watch more shared rememberances at tampabay.com/video.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Karl Glendenning, 20, and his mother Sarah Glendenning, 47, of Vandalia, Ohio, leave a message of condolence Wednesday to the Steinbrenner family at International Plaza in Tampa. Watch more shared rememberances at tampabay.com/video.

Steinbrenner charities

New York Yankees Tampa Foundation

. Purpose: To support youth sports and non-profit organizations

. Revenue (2008-09): $1.3 million (mostly from Yankees fantasy baseball camp fees)

. Expenses: $1 million (about $600,000 paid in grants, $104,000 for holiday children's concert, $27,000 for a coaches banquet, plus about $269,000 to host the fantasy camp)

Gold Shield Foundation

. Purpose: To provide aid and educational assistance to families of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty

. Revenue (2008-09): $119,859, mostly from investments

. Expenses: $107,887

Steinbrenner Family Foundation

. Revenue (2008): $200,000 from George Steinbrenner

. Grant: $200,000 to Massachusetts Institute of Technology athletics

Source: Internal Revenue Service filings

George Steinbrenner's charity will last beyond his death 07/14/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 15, 2010 3:26pm]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...