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07/15/10 1:24 AM ET

Reggie cherishes relationship with Boss

Hall of Famer calls Steinbrenner a 'leader, a winner, and a friend'

Reggie Jackson came to and eventually stayed with the Yankees because of George Steinbrenner, and on Wednesday, the Hall of Famer and New York baseball legend commented publicly on the early Tuesday passing of his former Boss.

"Upon hearing of Mr. Steinbrenner's passing early Tuesday morning, the last two days have been filled with great emotion and personal reflection," Jackson said in a statement provided by the Yankees.

"The relationship I shared with The Boss is one that both heartens and comforts me during this difficult time. He meant so much to so many people, and I will always cherish him as a leader, a winner, and a friend.

"While I look forward to honoring and celebrating Mr. Steinbrenner's life with his family and loved ones, I am taking this time to reflect on the enormous and lasting imprint he made within the game of baseball, throughout the Yankees organization, and in my life."

Steinbrenner signed Jackson as a free agent prior to the 1977 season, and the slugger paid dividends immediately, hitting three home runs in Game 6 of that year's World Series against the Dodgers to bring a title back to the Bronx for the first time in 15 years.

The man known as "Mr. October" went on to help lead the Yankees to another crown in 1978, left the team after the 1981 season, but rejoined the Yankees organization as a special advisor, a position he holds today. Steinbrenner also was instrumental in retiring Jackson's uniform number (44) in 1993 after Jackson was inducted into Cooperstown.

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