Steinbrenner Family Mourns as Yanks Honor Old-Timers

Yogi Berra misses game after falling at home

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Whether you liked him or not, he was a champion -- and he brought winners to New York.

    The family of George Steinbrenner placed a casket inside a mausoleum at a cemetery near Tampa on Saturday, four days after the death of the New York Yankees owner.

    The two sons and two daughters of the 80-year-old owner were joined by his wife, Joan, at Trinity Memorial Garden Cemetery.

    Neither the Yankees nor cemetery officials would confirm that services were taking place. The cemetery is located in Pasco County, about a half-hour drive north of Steinbrenner's home.

    Yankees co-chairmen Hal and Hank Steinbrenner and daughters Jessica Steinbrenner and Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal arrived on a steamy, humid afternoon with temperatures in the 90s. About 40 people were there, including Yankees employees. Flags within sight were at half staff.

    Those who gathered spent about 45 minutes inside a large building on the property, then walked outside into waiting vehicles. A hearse and five SUVs then drove a short distance to the grey stone mausoleum, where the two sons stood in front.

    A casket was taken from the hearse --Steinbrenner's two sons were among the pallbearers --and brought inside the mausoleum as family members watched.

    Hank Steinbrenner then escorted his mother into the tomb.

    The family spent less than 10 minutes inside. Joan Steinbrenner then shook hands with cemetery employees as mourners began leaving the grounds, and the family left in a caravan of cars a little after 4 p.m.

    The mausoleum is across a busy road from a horse ranch. Steinbrenner was passionate about horses and owned a horse farm in Ocala, Fla.

    George Steinbrenner, who had turned over day-to-day operations of the Yankees to his sons in 2007, died of a heart attack Tuesday in Tampa. A public memorial is expected to be held at a later date, although plans have not been announced.

    Steinbrenner was honored Friday night at Yankee Stadium, where the team played for the first time since his death. Mariano Rivera laid two long-stemmed red roses across home plate, tears filled manager Joe Girardi's eyes and Derek Jeter asked for a moment of silence. Fans stood as ``Taps'' echoed through the palatial ballpark Steinbrenner helped build.

    Many great Yankees were on the field wearing the famous pinstripes again, now with special memorial patches in honor of George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard.

    Amid all the tributes of the past week since the owner's death, Goose Gossage tried to lend some perspective, to contrast the beloved father figure of Steinbrenner's later years with the tempest who shook up New York, baseball and all of sports in his uninhibited younger days.

    "The last decade or decade and a half, I just don't think he was as tough as he was when we were there, crazy or whatever you want to call it. He was crazy," Gossage said Saturday. "He was off the charts. The craziest thing about George was the more you won, the crazier he got. Most people are like satisfied, and he got crazier."

    Unless you were there, you wouldn't understand. That was the era when Gossage labeled "The Boss" ''The Fat Man" during a clubhouse rant.