Last week was rough for the Bronx Bombers.
First they lost one of the institutions of the storiedfranchise, public address announcer Bob Sheppard, who passed away at 99.
Then, the man who was simply known as "TheBoss," team owner and often larger-than-life figure George Steinbrennerdied after several years of declining health.
The Boss, as one writer so eloquently put it, "had alock on the back pages of New York's tabloids and a lease on page one,"and transformed the landscape of the Yankees and baseball with a combination ofcharisma, flamboyancy and an uncompromising commitment to winning as perhaps noone in the Big Apple had since Babe Ruth.
My one and only meeting with him nearly 20 years agobegan with a trembling pen and ended with a cordial, "Nice speaking withyou."
I won't rehash the thousands of anecdotes and tributesthat have poured out since his passing, but in his usual custom of coming outon top, he exited stage right some six months after the expiration of thefederal estate tax.
The estate tax, set to be resurrected at a 55 percentrate in January 2011, saved The Boss's wife and four children roughly $500million.
Had he passed away in 2011, that bill would haveballooned to about $600 million, as his net worth has been estimated by Forbesat just over $1 billion, enough to be ranked No. 341 on its annual list of therichest Americans.
Lawmakers last revamped the estate tax in 2001. Thosechanges culminated over several years in its repeal for 2010.
In December, the House extended the 2009 law, which had a$3.5 million exemption per individual and a top tax rate of 45 percent. Howeverthe failure of the Senate lawmakers to draft a compromise estate tax rate in2010 has resulted in untold savings for high net worth individuals who died in2010.
Although no details of his will have thus far been madepublic, Steinbrenner owned 55 percent of the Yankees, the new incarnation ofYankee Stadium which debuted last year and the YES cable network.
The Yankees, widely acknowledged as the highest valuedsports franchise in the world, has a price tag of about $1.6 billion.
Not bad for someone who, 37 years ago, acquireda sagging team that had drawn just600,000 fans the season before, from CBS for $10 million - $1 million of whichhe put up himself.
Seven World Series titles, two suspensions and 20managerial changes later sports' biggest and highest profile owner has left theworld's biggest stage.
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