ST. PETERSBURG -- It was not surprising, even in his later years, for George M. Steinbrenner to be waiting in the manager's office when the Yankees would come off the diamond following games at Tropicana Field.
The trip to St. Petersburg was an easy one for "The Boss" from his Tampa, Fla., home, and Steinbrenner always relished victories over the Rays, whom he viewed as competition. That meant he took losses especially hard as well.
"I think it was important to Mr. Steinbrenner, because this was where he lived," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He took these games very serious, like any other game -- it's not like he ever didn't take a game serious. They meant something to him in Spring Training, too."
The Rays honored Steinbrenner -- who passed away July 13 at the age of 80 -- with a moment of silence and a brief ceremony before Friday's game at Tropicana Field, the Yankees' first to St. Petersburg since losing the longtime chairperson and principal owner.
Steinbrenner was acknowledged for his many contributions to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, which included foundations to help youngsters and build the community. He was also a well-known supporter of police officers and firefighters in the area.
"He would pop in every once in a while when we played here," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "Not so much recently, [but] it's still weird. It's not too long ago that he passed away."
Girardi said that he hopes to speak with several members of the Steinbrenner family while the team is in the area, and that Friday's pregame ceremony was "a great gesture" on the Rays' part.
"We know that he's with us," Girardi said.