The present and former Archbishops of New York have commented on the death of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, remembering his “generosity” and his help in securing Yankee Stadium for two papal Masses.
Steinbrenner died of a heart attack on July 13 at the age of 80.
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. George Steinbrenner today. My sincere condolences go to Mrs. Steinbrenner and the entire Steinbrenner family,” commented Archbishop Timothy Dolan. “When I was a young boy and budding baseball fan growing up in Saint Louis, everybody knew of the great New York Yankees. Even when they were your opponent, they were a team to be admired and respected.”
In a Tuesday statement, he recalled his “joy” at being invited to Steinbrenner’s box for the April 2009 grand opening of the new Yankees Stadium and also for a World Series game in October.
“They were experiences I’ll never forget. Mr. Steinbrenner and his family were very warm and welcoming to me, the new kid in town,” commented Archbishop Dolan, who was installed in New York in April 2009.
“I’ve since learned that such acts of kindness were very much in keeping with the Steinbrenner tradition,” he continued, noting that Catholic agencies in New York and Florida were often “the beneficiary of his and the Steinbrenner family’s generosity.”
He noted that the Steinbrenners and the New York Yankees responded to the January earthquake in Haiti with a $225,000 donation to Catholic Relief Services. He then praised Steinbrenner’s “tremendous goodness” in arranging Yankee Stadium as a papal Mass venue for Pope John Paul II in 1979 and for Pope Benedict XVI in 2008.
Cardinal Edward Egan, Archbishop Dolan’s predecessor, in a Tuesday statement noted that he had recently written Steinbrenner to wish him a happy 80th birthday.
“I thanked him once again for his extraordinary kindness and generosity to the Archdiocese of New York on the occasion of the Pastoral visit of Pope Benedict XVI to our City two years ago,” the cardinal wrote. “Thus it is with the deepest sadness that I learned this morning of the passing of this great New Yorker.”
He praised the Yankees owner as a “marvelous leader” and “an exemplary citizen.”
“His many acts of charity in favor of Catholic institutions, his kindness to Terence Cardinal Cooke when Pope John Paul II came to New York in 1979, and his deeply appreciated goodness to me and so many of our clergy and religious will never be forgotten,” the cardinal wrote.
Cardinal Egan said Steinbrenner will “always have a very special place in my prayers,” while Archbishop Dolan said the recently deceased will have “a special remembrance” in his Masses and prayers.
“May the Lord bless and console his beloved family in their loss and grant him, ‘The Boss,’ eternal rest,” the cardinal concluded.