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George Steinbrenner, Yankees Owner, "Opera Buff" Remembered

New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died Tuesday, he was 80 years old.

With seven World Series championships in over thirty years, "The Boss" was remembered by CBS News producer Pat Milton as a big man with a "big personality." Also, Milton said he was "an opera buff."

(left, Milton and Steinbrenner share ice cream together following an interview.)

As a reporter with The Associated Press, Milton interviewed Steinbrenner on several occasions. Her interview with him in September 2007, was one of the last interviews he granted. Milton notes that even though Steinbrenner was in ailing health at the time, he was still the old Yankees Boss, spirited and enthusiastic, and demanding wins and a championship season.

At first meeting Steinbrenner, Milton said she was struck by his larger than life presence and was "tremendously surprised by his warmth."

"You hear all the horror stories about him as being the iron fisted boss," Milton said. "I was a bit intimidated before I walked into his office to do my first interview with him. But, he's very engaging. He puts you at ease immediately. He's very funny, and very much into the conversation you're having with him. He doesn't look over your shoulder but looks you squarely in the eye."

Steinbrenner the music fan? Milton said one of the biggest thrills of his life was when he was a guest conductor for the New York Pops at the famous Carnegie Hall in New York. "He did the conducting, and was very pleased with that day,"  Milton said. He was an accomplished pianist and an opera buff. Steinbrenner had been close friends with opera legend Robert Merrill who often graced Yankee Stadium with singing the national anthem before the start of a game.

Steinbrenner was also deeply committed to his race horses which are bred and trained at his family's 750 acre farm in Ocala. Fla. One of Steinbrenner's horses, Hemingway Key, finished third in the Preakness Stakes and he said he hoped someday one would win the Kentucky Derby. In one interview with Milton, Steinbrenner said, "wouldn't it be special to win the Kentucky Derby and the World Series in the same year?"

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