But when he and his partners bought the Yankees from CBS for $10 million back in 1973, the Bronx Bombers were struggling. They hadn't won a World Series in 9 years.
Steinbrenner quickly turned the tide, luring talented players like Reggie Jackson with eye-popping salaries under the new "free agent" system.
The Yankees won the World Series seven times under his reign, and are now valued at $1.6 billioni.
Known as "the boss," Steinbrenner was a brutal one. His tenure was marred by personal feuds, a parade of fired and rehired managers, and his own domineering style.
But he also had a softer side. He once said that owning the Yankees was like owning the Mona Lisa, a testament to his love of the game and his players.
Now a team that isn't used to losing has lost one of the greats.
That's a page from my notebook.
I'm Katie Couric, CBS News.