Tampa icon George Steinbrenner's life of contrasts
"I'll tell them until they're tired of hearing it. I don't live in New York, I live in Tampa, Florida."
- George Steinbrenner
Everyone knew George Steinbrenner III as The Boss, the bullying and bombastic owner of the New York Yankees, famous for firings and feuds, with a temper so legendary that it was parodied on TV's Seinfeld. But many in his adopted hometown of Tampa saw his other side -- the compulsively generous, big-hearted billionaire who leaves a legacy of quiet philanthropy to children.
For Tampa, Steinbrenner was a philanthropist of causes big and small who helped put the area on the sporting world map. For Steinbrenner, Tampa provided him with the acceptance and approval that eluded him for many years in New York City.
He left behind a remarkable legacy. Look around, and his fingerprints are all over the Tampa Bay area: The Florida State Fair, the Port of Tampa, Steinbrenner Field. The Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Downs, middle school sports programs, Boys and Girls Clubs. Lights at Little League fields, a pediatric emergency center at St. Joseph's Hospital, children's concerts by the Florida Orchestra.
Steinbrenner is credited with single-handedly getting the Florida State Fair back on secure financial footing when he chaired it in the 1990s. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay appreciate his support so much that the charity named its building after him. He gave generously to the Florida Orchestra and sponsored concerts for disadvantaged youths at Christmas.