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Steinbrenner donates $54,000 to county teams

The Steinbrenner family and the New York Yankees on Thursday donated $54,000 _ the entire net receipts from last season's State Baseball Tournament at Legends Field _ to the athletic departments of Hillsborough County's public and private schools.

Joe Molloy, the Yankee general partner and son-in-law of principal owner George Steinbrenner, said each of the county's 27 baseball-playing schools will receive a check for $2,000.

"The schools can use the money for their biggest needs in athletics," Molloy said. "We took a (financial) loss on the state tournament (the Yankees have guaranteed $100,000 a year to the Florida High School Activities Association during the event's four-year stay in Tampa), but the biggest reason we wanted the event was to benefit our community.

"The first one was very successful (total attendance topped 14,000). We just thought that taking the monies from the event and putting it back into the community would be another way to show how much we support our area's athletic programs."

The donation was just the latest evidence of Steinbrenner's ongoing support for high school athletics. The Yankees have underwritten the cost of a fall football jamboree at Houlihan's Stadium and also hold an annual Hillsborough County coaches' banquet.

"You've got to pinch yourself when you think of all the good George Steinbrenner does for high school athletics," Jesuit High athletic director Sonny Hester said. "Every time I hear somebody bad-mouth him, I just come back with instance after instance of the ways he has helped us all out.

"With as tight as budgets are these days, you've got to think that every school will welcome this donation. It's good to know someone cares."