NEW YORK, JULY 30 -- Fans with radios spread the news of Fay Vincent's decision and within minutes the bleachers registered reaction. Thousands of Yankees fans jumped to their feet cheering and chanting, "No more George."

The Yankees got the news from the fans.

"We heard the cheer go up from the crowd," Greg Cadaret said afterward in the locker room. "We looked up and didn't see a fight in the stands. We didn't see anything on the board."

"I actually thought people were running on the field from third base," said pitcher Dave LaPoint. "It got so loud."

Back in the dugout, Manager Stump Merrill told the team what little he knew: It looked as if the Steinbrenner era was over.

Merrill, and most players interviewed after the game, appeared stunned at the severity of the punishment and genuinely saddened about the loss of Steinbrenner, who, they said, loved the game and loved the Yankees.

"As proud a Yankee as I am, this is a sad day," said Merrill, with the Yankees for 14 years. "The man has meant a lot to me, a lot to my family. . . . It's a major loss."

"I know how much he wanted to win," coach Mike Ferraro said. "I know how much the Yankees meant to him."

Vice President and General Manager Pete Peterson said, "I'm shocked at the severity of it."

"I think most people were prepared for a suspension of some type," said Andy Hawkins. "Most of the guys were surprised."

In the stands, however, the reaction was largely one of unrestrained glee.

"He should have been out a long time ago," said Kathy Molinari, a Bronx homemaker and 15-year Yankees fan. "He ruined this team. Maybe now we'll get going like they are now," she said, pointing to the scoreboard that registered Yankees 5, Tigers 2.

"He's getting what he deserves," said Cedric Smith, an insurance company employee. "He wasn't liked by the people and he's pretty much abused people."

In contrast to the players, some fans said the decision was not harsh enough. "I think it's a cop-out actually. He got suspended in '84 and that didn't stop him," said Steve Ranieri, a quality control expert from Long Island.

Howard Spira, 31, the gambler at the center of the Steinbrenner investigation, was at his home in the Bronx, listening to the radio, when Vincent announced Steinbrenner must give up control of his team.

"I have nothing to say. Call my lawyer," said Spira, who caused the investigation to begin when he made Steinbrenner's $40,000 payment public.

"It's hard to find sympathy or empathy for someone who you believe has misused the criminal justice system in an unfair and reckless manner to gain personal benefit to serve his own ends," said David S. Greenfield, Spira's lawyer. "No, I don't have any degree of sympathy or empathy for him."

As word spread throughout the baseball world, the reactions were mostly sympathetic with Steinbrenner. At Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, reaction was tinged with surprise and some sadness.

"I like Mr. Steinbrenner," said Toronto pitcher John Candelaria, who spent one full year and part of another in the Yankees organization. "I hope everything works out for him. I'm surprised that someone can make him sell his team."

"In spite of a lot of what I read, he's a good man," said Orioles bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks, who spent parts of 1976 and 1977 with the Yankees. "There's a lot of good things he does that are never printed. I'm sorry to hear what happened."

But Vincent's action provided a sense of vindication for one former Yankee, Dave Winfield.

"It does a whole lot for anything anybody might have questioned about me," said Winfield. "I just know they did a thorough investigation to come up with the facts and thought he acted against the best interests of baseball. He had been against my best interests for years."

Vincent's ruling, Winfield said, "is the end of an era in New York," as well as the end of his ties to Steinbrenner and the Yankees organization. Winfield was questioned by special investigator John M. Dowd but was not a focus of the investigation.

"I'm glad to get this out of the way. It's really been a major distraction, although not as much as when I was there in New York," Winfield said. "It's unfortunate for baseball in New York. I always appreciated the way Yankee fans treated me for who I was and not what {Steinbrenner} said."

In the buzzing Yankees locker room after the game, the team was just beginning to come to terms with what appears to be a major change in the organization.

Asked who would be running the Yankees now Peterson said, "I don't think we have anyone right now. Someone will have to be appointed."

As they dressed after the game some players had waxed philosophical about the crime for which Steinbrenner is now paying.

"All he's really done is fill a lot of guys pockets full of money," Dave Righetti said. "Yeah, he's hurt some guys. He's hurt their stomachs and their minds, but has he really hurt somebody? I don't know."

Jesse Barfield, sitting in the locker room with an ice-pack on his foot, "I wish him the best, I really do. He was fair with me. I'm going to remember that. I feel bad for the guy."

LaPoint:, "We're still going to get paid, we're still going to play and hopefully things will straighten out."

For other players it was a typical postgame wrap-up. "I'm just sorry I didn't get any hits," said Bob Geren.

Highlights of George Steinbrenner's career as owner of the New York Yankees:

JAN. 3, 1973: Headed group that purchased the team from CBS Inc. for $10 million, $3.2 million less than CBS paid in 1964 and 1965.

APRIL 15, 1974: Fifteen-count indictment handed up in Cleveland federal court for violations of election laws. Maximum penalties if convicted total 55 years in prison and $110,000 in fines.

APRIL 19, 1974: Entered not guilty pleas to all 15 counts.

AUG. 23, 1974: Entered guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to make illegal contributions.

AUG. 30, 1974: Fined $15,000 by Cleveland federal court.

NOV. 27, 1974: Suspended by baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn for two years because of guilty plea.

DEC. 31, 1974: Yankees signed Jim "Catfish" Hunter to a five-year, $3.75 million contract.

MARCH 1, 1976: Suspension lifted after 15 months.

OCT. 14, 1976: Yankees won their first pennant since 1964.

NOV. 29, 1976: Yankees signed free agent Reggie Jackson to five-year, $3 million contract.

OCT. 18, 1977: Yankees won first World Series since 1962.

NOV. 11, 1979: Fined $5,000 by Kuhn for tampering with Brian Downing of California.

JUNE 26, 1980: Reprimanded by Kuhn for tampering with amateur player Billy Cannon Jr.

DEC. 15, 1980: Yankees signed free agent Dave Winfield to a 10-year contract.

APRIL 21, 1981: Ordered 50,000 copies of the Yankees' yearbook taken off stands when he dislikes his picture.

OCT. 25, 1981: Broke hand in Los Angeles after the Yankees lost fifth game of the World Series to the Dodgers; says he was attacked by two fans.

OCT. 28, 1981: Issued apology to Yankees fans after the Dodgers beat New York.

JULY 3, 1983: Fined $5,000 by Kuhn for remarks about Chicago White Sox co-owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

APRIL 19, 1983: Fined $50,000 by Kuhn for remarks during exhibition game questioning the integrity of National League umpires.

MAY 31, 1983: Suspended for one week by American League President Lee MacPhail for questioning the integrity of umpires Darryl Cousins and John Shulock.

DEC. 23, 1983: Team fined $250,000 by Kuhn and ordered to pay $50,000 in legal fees because of Steinbrenner's actions and statements regarding the "pine tar" game.

JULY 5, 1990: Team fined $25,000 by Commissioner Fay Vincent and ordered to pay $200,000 to the Angels for tampering with the May 11 trade of Winfield to California.

JULY 30, 1990: Vincent announced that Steinbrenner must resign as general partner by Aug. 20 for dealings with gambler Howard Spira.

Highlights from the text of Commissioner Fay Vincent's decision on George Steinbrenner:

I conclude that Mr. Steinbrenner's payment to Mr. Spira in January 1990, and his undisclosed working relationship with Spira and the private investigation of Spira's allegations conducted by and at Mr. Steinbrenner's direction between December 1986 and September 3, 1987, constitutes conduct that is not in the best interests of baseball.

My decision in this case derives from two fundamental and, in my view, indisputable premises: (1) An owner of a major league baseball club may not initiate and maintain for months, without the knowledge of the commissioner, a working relationship with a known gambler . . . and . . . (2) An owner of a major league baseball club may not pay a gambler for information intended to be used in a dispute involving the owner and a ballplayer.

Some may argue that nothing very serious is involved in this case; that Mr. Steinbrenner erred but not egregiously; that there are worse problems in baseball, and I strongly disagree. I sat through the two days of Mr. Steinbrenner's testimony and I am able to judge the degree of candor and contrition present in this case. I am able to discern an attempt to force explanations in hindsight onto discomforting facts. And I am able to evaluate a pattern of behavior that borders on the bizarre.

Since 1921, the commissioner of baseball has been charged with the responsibility of insuring that all those affiliated with the game of baseball conduct themselves in a manner that instills public confidence in the game and its participants. Mr. Steinbrenner's dealings with Spira are unacceptable under this code of conduct, which I am committed to enforce.

No commissioner can permit or encourage an owner to run his own investigation into serious matters that are within the jurisdiction of this office, and baseball has long forbidden the kind of association with a known gambler that permeates this case.

I find the transaction that culminated in the payment to Spira to have been a serious error of judgement, and I must impose correspondingly serious sanctions as a consequence. Mr. Steinbrenner knew that the payment to Spira was ill-advised because all his advisers spoke against it. He knew Spira was or had been a gambler -- it matters not which -- and yet he made the payment. He knew Spira claimed he had promised money or a job or both, and yet Mr. Steinbrenner made the payment, thereby validating the claim that Spira was being paid for providing information. He knew the payment, if exposed, would look bad and he knew, or at least should have known, that, if the payment were exposed, it would bring disrepute to him and therefore baseball. As a result, efforts were made to cover it up.

{Steinbrenner's} claims of fear and of extortion are not credible. I note no tone of fear on the tape of the March 1990 conversation following the payment when Spira asked unsuccessfully for an additional $110,000. At that time, Mr. Steinbrenner never mentioned that he made the payment out of fear, nor did he claim he was extorted. Rather, he said he paid Spira to help him out. And when Mr. Steinbrenner said a final "No" to the $110,000 demand, he exhibited neither fear nor confusion. He even argued he overpaid with the $40,000 in that Spira's information was described by Mr. Steinbrenner as not that helpful.