Minutes before Opening Day at Yankee Stadium in 2004, George Steinbrenner was moved to tears while being interviewed by Warner Wolf.
Having adding Alex Rodriguez and other free agents in the offseason, fans in the stands behind Steinbrenner showed their appreciation by chanting, "Thank You, George.”
Steinbrenner, always conscious of his image with the fan base, couldn’t hold back his emotions and began to cry on live television. It was a rare look at the softer side of a man that many thought didn’t have a soft side.
At times vilified by the fans because of his impetuous nature, Steinbrenner’s desire to win ultimately transformed his image amongst the fans from tyrant to beloved figure. As he turned the Yankees into the empire it is today, he became appreciated and resptected.
"I don't like losing," Steinbrenner once said. "Winning is important to me, it's second to breathing. Breathing is first, winning is second."
When Phil Rizzuto passed away in 2007, Steinbrenner released a statement saying, "God must have needed a shortstop."
He must have needed an owner as well.