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New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera lays two roses across home plate during a tribute to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner before Friday's game. ((Frank Franklin II/Associated Press))

The New York Yankees celebrated the life of George Steinbrenner with a solemn 15-minute pre-game tribute on Friday that included an emotional remembrance from captain Derek Jeter.

As fans stood through Taps and a two-minute moment of silence, the 27 World Series championship flags that Steinbrenner cherished with all his might could be heard flapping at half-staff toward centre field in the stiff breeze.

The New York Yankees celebrated the life of "The Boss" with a solemn 15-minute pre-game tribute Friday night that included an emotional remembrance from Jeter, spoken to the crowd from behind the plate before New York played Tampa Bay.

Nick Swisher hit a single in the ninth to send the crowd of 47,524 home happy in a 5-4 win.

"I thought the club played like Mr. Steinbrenner expected," manager Joe Girardi said, sniffling. "I think The Boss would have been proud."

Steinbrenner, the team's driving and blustery owner, died Tuesday, two days after the death of Bob Sheppard, Yankee Stadium's longtime public-address announcer, and New York returned home following the all-star break to mark what both meant to a franchise obsessed with its tradition.

"We gather here tonight to honour two men who were both shining stars in the Yankee universe," Jeter said as teammates and the Rays stood ramrod straight, caps off, in front of their dugouts. "Both men, Mr. George Steinbrenner and Mr. Bob Sheppard, cared deeply about their responsibilities to this organization and to our fans, and for that, will be forever remembered in baseball history and in our hearts."

The new ballpark, opened last year in one of Steinbrenner's final acts, could not have been quieter.

"Simply put," Jeter said, "Mr. Steinbrenner and Mr. Sheppard both left this organization in a much better place than when they first arrived. They've set the example for all employees of the New York Yankees to strive to follow."

Steinbrenner died of a heart attack at age 80 after 37 ½ years as owner of America's most famous team. Sheppard, whose elegant and booming introductions gave old Yankee Stadium its voice from 1951-07, was 99 when he died.

Girardi cried and Jeter's face was choked with emotion as the Yankees stood at attention in front of their dugout.

Mariano Rivera laid roses across home plate before Taps was played.

Wreaths were placed on each side of the Steinbrenner statue inside the team office entrance in left field, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was among those who filed past. A wreath also was placed next to Sheppard's plaque in Monument Park, behind the center-field fence.

During batting practice, video tributes to Steinbrenner were shown on the scoreboard along with quotes of famous Yankees praising him. New York players wore patches with Steinbrenner's name, initials and "The Boss" over their hearts, and ones commemorating Sheppard on their left sleeves.