George Steinbrenner (’52) High:

High schools often carry the name of a church saint, president or other historical figure, so in this northern Tampa suburb there is George Steinbrenner High, a nod to “The Boss,” the principal owner of the New York Yankees and one of the most controversial forces in baseball history.

“Certainly this wasn’t the usual way of naming a school,” says MaryEllen Elia, superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools. “But when one of our board members suggested it, the board talked for five minutes and voted unanimously to name it after Steinbrenner. We are committed to the people who support our schools and community.”

Steinbrenner earned millions as a shipping magnate in Ohio and has won seven World Series titles leading the Yankees in New York, but Tampa is where he has made his home since the early 1970s and developed a legacy in stark contrast to his image as a free-spending, short-tempered villain. Instead, the 79-year-old billionaire is known in these parts for his community spirit and philanthropic ways.

teinbrenner is in declining health and has turned over operation of the Yankees to his sons, Hal and Hank; through spokesman Howard Rubenstein, he declined a request to be interviewed. But like the team that won the World Series last year, the Steinbrenners march on, continuing to lend a hand to their hometown.

The Boss always has had a soft spot for disadvantaged children, athletes and coaches, members of the armed forces, law enforcement and firefighters, and he has offered his charity and influence. The Tampa area is dotted with thank you signs to Steinbrenner. Besides the high school, Legends Field was renamed Steinbrenner Field in 2008 by the city of Tampa, and the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa and a pediatric emergency and trauma center at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital carry his name.

“He would have been less excited about it 20 years ago when he wouldn’t have wanted the recognition,” Hal Steinbrenner says. “But he’s excited, and it is rewarding to him to be recognized. He’s emotional and appreciative.”

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