Yankees celebrate Steinbrenner's life with pregame tribute

(AP) - Mariano Rivera laid red roses across home plate.Tears filled Joe Girardi's eyes. Derek Jeter's face was flush withemotion. As fans stood through "Taps" and a 2-minute moment of silence,the 27 World Series championship flags that George Steinbrennercherished with all his might could be heard flapping at half-stafftoward center field in the stiff breeze. The New York Yankees celebrated the life of "The Boss" with asolemn 15-minute pregame tribute Friday night that included anemotional remembrance from Jeter, spoken to the crowd from behindthe plate before New York played Tampa Bay. Steinbrenner, the team's driving and blustery owner, diedTuesday, two days after the death of Bob Sheppard, Yankee Stadium'slongtime public-address announcer, and New York returned homefollowing the All-Star break to mark what both meant to a franchiseobsessed with its tradition. "We gather here tonight to honor two men who were both shiningstars in the Yankee universe," Jeter said as teammates and theRays stood ramrod straight, caps off, in front of their dugouts."Both men, Mr. George Steinbrenner and Mr. Bob Sheppard, careddeeply about their responsibilities to this organization and to ourfans, and for that, will be forever remembered in baseball historyand in our hearts." The new ballpark, opened last year in one of Steinbrenner'sfinal acts, could not have been quieter. "Simply put," Jeter said, "Mr. Steinbrenner and Mr. Sheppardboth left this organization in a much better place than when theyfirst arrived. They've set the example for all employees of the NewYork Yankees to strive to follow." Steinbrenner died of a heart attack at age 80 after 37½ years asowner of America's most famous team. Sheppard, whose elegant andbooming introductions gave old Yankee Stadium its voice from1951-07, was 99 when he died.

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