Mel Southard, former Yankees counsel, dies

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Mel Southard, a former general counsel of the New York Yankees and chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, has died. He was 67.

His brother-in-law, Denis Cronin, said Southard died Thursday from what is "highly likely a heart attack." Cronin said an autopsy will be performed.

A graduate of Colgate University and Fordham School of Law, Southard spent seven years as an intellectual property lawyer before serving as general counsel of the Yankee from 1982-1986.

"We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Mel Southard earlier today. He was a trusted adviser to Mr. Steinbrenner and a friend to countless others during his tenure with the organization," the Yankees said in a statement. "The Yankees extend their sympathies and thoughts to the family and friends of Mr. Southard during this difficult time."

Southard also represented the NHL's New Jersey Devils and several Major League teams in arbitration hearings, including the Yankees and Cincinnati Reds. He also acted as counsel for Chunichi Dragons, a Japanese professional team.

From 1996-2002, Southard was commissioner and chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, which regulates professional boxing in New York.

A viewing will be held at Fairchild Sons Funeral home in Manhasset on Sunday from 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The funeral will be held Monday at St. Mary's church, also in Manhasset.