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Red Sox pay respects to Steinbrenner

Red Sox pay respects to Steinbrenner

ANAHEIM -- Yankees owner George Steinbrenner helped fuel perhaps the fiercest rivalry in sports history because of his burning desire to always put a championship-caliber team on the field. That left the Red Sox often doing all they could do to match New York with impactful transactions and thorough scouting and player development.

Upon hearing the news that Steinbrenner, 80, had died Tuesday following a massive heart attack, the Red Sox expressed their appreciation and respect for a man who had a large influence on the game of baseball.

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Prior to Thursday night's game at Fenway Park against the Rangers, the Red Sox will hold a moment of silence in Steinbrenner's memory.

"I have mad respect for Steinbrenner," said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. "It's to the point where you don't even worry about the rivalry or who you play for. This is a guy who has done a lot for baseball. He's done a lot of good things for a lot of people in general. That's the things that I like to remember about people, especially in a situation like this. I think we all need to give him a lot of respect to his family and let his family know we're all thinking about them."

Though Steinbrenner had been less visible in recent years, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who broke into the Major Leagues in 2006, could still feel his impact during visits to New York.

"He changed the game of baseball," said Pedroia. "My first time I played in Yankee Stadium, everyone was wearing a suit. It was all first class. I asked one of the guys, 'Why are you wearing a suit?' He said, 'It's Mr. Steinbrenner. Whatever he says goes.' He loved winning. He's definitely going to be missed."

Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry used to be a minority owner with the Yankees and knew Steinbrenner well.

"I had the good fortune to call George Steinbrenner both partner and friend," said Henry in a statement released by the Red Sox. "I had the privilege to watch George as he built a system that ensured his beloved Yankees would have a strong foundation for sustained excellence. And then we fiercely competed in the American League. George Steinbrenner forever changed baseball and hopefully some day we will see him honored in baseball's Hall of Fame as one of the great figures in the history of sports."

When the Red Sox held their annual radio-thon to raise money for the cancer-fighting Jimmy Fund, Steinbrenner often called in with a sizable donation.

"George Steinbrenner was one of the most important people in the history of the game, and his impact touched all aspects of the business of baseball," Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino said. "His vision for the Yankees turned around a once struggling franchise and manifested itself in the form of seven World Series championships and 11 American League pennants.

"My respect for George went beyond the baseball field because of his sincere and longstanding commitment to charity, and to people in need. He had a giant heart, often well hidden from public view. Part of his legacy here in Boston will be the profound kindness he showed to numerous local philanthropic causes, especially as a regular and generous contributor each year to the Jimmy Fund of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute."

Though Steinbrenner was known as just about the most competitive soul imaginable, he left a kind message for Red Sox manager Terry Francona after Boston made history and came back from a 3-0 deficit against New York in the 2004 AL Championship Series.

"I have a lot of friends and people in New York, and they say a lot of good things about him," said Ortiz. "He did what he was supposed to do -- try to win. If I ran a team, I would do the same thing if I had that kind of money. Go for the best, play the best and be the best. That's what he did."

Steinbrenner helped generate a lot of revenue for his team, thus increasing the stakes around the game.

"That's one of the reasons why everyone is making a lot of money," Pedroia said. "He changed the game. He didn't just change the Yankees. He changed baseball. I think everyone is grateful for that."

"George Steinbrenner was a formidable opponent and baseball's greatest rivalry will not be the same without him," said Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. "As the longest tenured owner, he left an indelible mark on the game. I worked with George in my position as the owner of two Major League franchises and saw first-hand his passionate leadership style, his zeal for winning, and his love for the game. Above all, I knew George as a competitor and today Red Sox Nation lost a person who truly relished the prospect of facing the Red Sox and doing all he could to make sure his beloved Yankees would come out victorious."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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