Negron: This Doc Has a Broken Heart

Like everyone else in the baseball community I was saddened by the terrible news of Yankee pitching great and outstanding pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre’s passing.

I first met Mel in 1973 during my first season as a Yankee batboy. It was my first day in that crazy clubhouse and I couldn’t help but notice that Mel acted more like a young college professor instead of a “Bronx Zoo” Yankee. He was just a very nice guy. The other thing that I noticed was how everyone gravitated to him.

What stood out to me about Mel was how prepared he was before every game. He was one of the coolest customers I have ever seen play in NY. Mel truly personified what a New York Yankee baseball player was at that time along with Bobby Murcer, Thurman Munson and Roy White. Those guys gave us fans hope. They also made the Yankees fun during a tough, non-winning period in Yankee history. When Mel’s baseball career came to a screeching halt because of a rotator cuff injury in 1974, he would become one of baseball’s all time great pitching coaches, first for the Mets and later the Yankees.

While with the Mets he would tutor one of baseball’s great pitching staffs. During his tenure there he would have the opportunity to work with one of baseball’s all time great phenoms, Dwight “Doc” Gooden.

Mel would become a second father to this very impressionable young man. The trust that they would develop for each other probably saved Gooden in more ways then one. Mel would work for other teams including the Houston Astros. When George Steinbrenner signed Gooden in the winter of 1995 he asked Doc if he were to pick his own pitching coach who would that be and Doc said with no hesitation “Mel Stottlemyre.” At that moment, the Boss told Arthur Richman, his head of Public Relations at the time, to call Mel. The rest is history. It’s no coincidence that Gooden was able to rebound as beautifully as he did in that 1996 season, that included a no hitter at Yankee Stadium against Alex Rodriguez and the Seattle Mariners.

Today I called Doc, who was at Mets’ fantasy camp, and when he answered the phone he was crying. He said that there aren’t words to say how he feels. He said the last time he cried like this was when his mom died and before that it was in 2010 when George Steinbrenner died. Speaking through his tears, Gooden noted how good it was that Hal Steinbrenner and the Steinbrenner family honored Mel at Yankee Stadium in 2015. It was probably the last true highlight of Mel’s life.

The Boss and Mel were my baseball fathers. Like your real parents, you just can’t replace these people because of the intense emotions that you go through with them while working in a very intense and demanding business in this extremely crazy world that we live in.

Dwight Gooden is very lucky because, during his worst moments, his baseball fathers showed him more love then anyone in his situation would’ve gotten from anybody else. People like Mel Stottlemyre are not that common in the business of baseball.

Like Doc Gooden there are a lot of former players with broken hearts tonight. Players that, at one time or another, were touched by the kindness and generosity of Mel Stottlemyre. Just ask “Dr. K,” Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden if you don’t believe me.

Doc Gooden makes a house call to visit BATBOY

As the “BATBOY” producer for its first four productions in 2018, I couldn’t help but notice the excitement and anticipation from the folks that were lined up outside the heralded Brokerage Comedy Club in Bellmore, Long Island. It was Sunday, January 6th, and it was the 2019 debut and fifth show featuring New York Baseball Legend Dwight “Doc” Gooden.

“Doc’s” house call, along with the amazing performances from its actors and musicians at this most recent event, occurred before a sold-out, standing room only crowd where fans had to be turned away at the door, was utterly spectacular. The energy in the crowd was electric as they waited patiently for the doors to open. Unfortunately not everyone was able to experience it. This development created sincere regret for the “BATBOY” himself. “To have people turned away at the door on a wintry Sunday night is highly upsetting to me. I wish they could have been there for the show,” Ray Negron said. Without prompting from this writer, Negron went on to mention, “however, to see all the seats filled with others standing throughout the wings of this historic comedic establishment was an incredible sight to see. This is a venue which has featured comedians such as Eddie Murphy, Andrew “Dice” Clay, Artie Lange and Kevin James, now “BATBOY” and Dwight Gooden…………………….well, it doesn’t get better than that.”

Similar to past shows, this performance featured incredible talent from its own actors/actresses. From musical legend Pepe Cardona from “Alive N’ Kickin” to the sultry sound of “DIVANATION” to the operatic voice of Adam Unger (who played Bobby Murcer), to the candid, intimate conversation between Ray Negron, Larry Davis and Dwight Gooden on center stage immediately following the “BATBOY” performance/showcase offered a wide ranging variety of talented performers.

Negron was proud to be a part of this memorable evening. “This was a showcase for our extremely talented cast and performers,” Negron said. “We wanted them to demonstrate their God-given gifts to the folks that were in the audience such as Ken Decamillo (William Morris Agency), Joey Dedio (Film Producer) and Gene Gagliardi (Music Producer).” “This showcase was a chance to begin working out some of its kinks before our production embarks on its 2019 tour highlighted by the return to the Tilles Center on May 22nd.”

Making his Musical “BATBOY” debut was singer/songwriter Alex Martin whose rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” brought the crowd to its feet as well as Cardona’s original ode to Thurman Munson called “Won’t Be the Same Without You.”

Cardona shared his thoughts about the reception of the audience after he and his son, Timothy Cardona, performed this emotionally charged song which reminds us all that it will be 40 years since the Yankee Captain passed away in a fiery plane crash on August 2, 1979. “Seeing the crowd’s reaction standing and applauding with tears in their eyes brought tears to my eyes. That’s what the song is all about….remembering Thurman. Thurman brought people together on and off the field. This show highlights his love affair with his wife Diana Munson (played by GiGi Cormio).” Cardona added,” Frankly I was floored and very touched by the reaction. I had their full attention and they were able to hear the words and appreciate them. I can see us doing that at the stadium you know?”

Other “BATBOY” mainstays Martin Knapp (Billy Martin), Terrell Carpenter (Reggie Jackson), Luis Castillo (Edwin), Carmine Elvezio (Little Ray), Charlie Santora (Yogi Berra), Shane Springer (Roy White), Theresa Farrell (Olga), Aris Sakellaridis (Sparky Lyle), Steve Vaccaro (Marshmallow Salesman), Lisa Coppola (Salesman’s Girlfriend) were spot on.

Newcomer and established actor Bryan Dromerhauser, who played a sinister gang member, gave the crowd a dramatic performance recreating a gang scene that Negron horrifically experienced when he was 17 years old. . However, it was Dwight Gooden’s appearance that brought “heat” to the raucous atmosphere just like one of his powerful fastballs. As highlights of his May 14, 1996 No-Hitter at Yankee Stadium were being played on the big screen for all to see, Ray Negron introduced Dr. K. to join him up on the stage. As he approached the stage, the entire sold out crowd stood up and cheered for their hero. It was reminiscent of sitting in the left field “K” corner at Shea Stadium standing up applauding after every strikeout and posting a”K” on the railing.

“WOW, what a great feeling,” Doc said. You guys are great (referring to the audience). It is always nice to return home,” Gooden announced. He then began rhythmically clapping to the crowd cheering, “Dwight, Dwight, Dwight.” The relationship that Doc has with New York is amazing. After 16 years of playing major league baseball and being inducted into the Mets’ Hall of Fame in 2010, his relationship with New Yorkers will remain lovingly secured forever.
Receiving the 1984 rookie of the year award and 1985 Cy Young award were not even discussed on this special night. Both Ray Negron and Larry Davis asked some very personal, fun-loving questions that Doc answered candidly as they reflected on some funny times. This empowered the audience to ask their own questions as well.

There was a moment during the Q & A that Gooden talked about “battling addiction demons.” He then leaned over, as he was sitting on a stool center stage, to make eye contact with Negron, who was to his left. Gooden emphatically and gracefully stated, “I want you all in the audience to know that Ray Negron saved my life. He was always there for me. Protecting me and always looking out for me. I will never forget those times until the day I die.” There was not a dry eye in the house, including Negron. Both men got up and hugged each other in loving support. The crowd began to humbly applaud with sincere, heartfelt emotion. Gooden then faced the crowd and revealed his love, gratitude and appreciation for the late, great George Steinbrenner. The audience stood in silence feeling the seemingly pure affection Gooden had with the Boss.

Yes, the Doc made a house call on this cold night in Long Island to share his love, gratitude and lifelong appreciation to the “BATBOY.” Maybe, just maybe, Doc may appear at other “BATBOY” performances in New York or in the Tampa area. However, for now, Gooden is off to Mets’ Fantasy camp in Florida and the “BATBOY” will be doing the same at Yankee Fantasy Camp. Pitchers and catchers report in only 25 days…….. PLAY BALL!!!!!

Negron: A Christmas Story-The Yankee Way

Christmas for me has become a very difficult time of year. The reason for this is because the person that loved this holiday so much in my life was my sweet mom, Jenny. She used to fuss around the house making sure that she had a gift for anyone that might show up during the holidays. She would have her concentrated gifts and she would have her generic gifts. Either way, they were both generally nice gifts and it made her feel good because as a kid she knew what it was like not to have, especially at Christmas. As a kid, my mom made sure that we always had a nice holiday and whether or not we could afford it, she always came really close to getting us what we wanted and always gave the credit to Santa Claus.

This is the second Christmas without my mom and I miss her more than words can say. As a four year old, my biological father left us and my mom would always say, “It’s you and me against the world.” Years later a lady by the name of Helen Reddy would sing a song with the same title and I swore that my mom had collaborated with the famous singer on the song.

A little over a year ago, I was speaking at Suffolk Community College addressing a bunch of at risk kids. Their counselor was s psychologist by the name of Steve Vaccaro. We became close friends because of his love of young people and his understanding of his father not being home and how important that is to a child. We also had a very strong bond with our love of Thurman Munson and the New York Yankees. During the last eighteen months I can’t tell you how many Munson stories I have told Steve, and he can’t get enough. I think one of the happiest days of his life was when I told him that Munson was truly an amazing person. He was just happy to know that had he met his hero he would not have been disappointed. The other thing that really made Steve feel closer to Munson was the fact that like us, Thurman’s dad also was not around. Unless you experience it you don’t know what that feeling is like. Sometimes as a youngster you think to yourself, what role had I played in his leaving. Young people go through a lot of pain because of this. I was lucky because during my most difficult time as a youngster, a group of guys called the Yankees came into my life and made me somebody.  Most people aren’t as lucky as I was.

When Steve’s dad left they had to put Steve and his brother in foster homes and shelters because his mom was very sick. It’s a very sad story but like me, at least Steve had his mother. The one big difference between our situations was that my mom was extremely strong and healthy. Like me, Steve loved his mom more than life. Whenever his mom was feeling better they would let Steve and his brother stay with his mom and when she would get sick again, they would be put back into foster care. Through it all, I find it amazing that Steve and his brother were good students, got their educations.  Steve became a Phycologist and his brother became a police officer. Steve just didn’t want to let his mother down. It was almost as if whatever strength she had left in her body she willed it to her two sons. Steve’s mom suffered from Multiple Sclerosis’s, however through her pain and suffering she always showed her kids the importance of love to one and all. That’s why if you know Steve then you would understand the extremely decent and good person that this guy is.

During the holidays, there are many food drives all around New York. I know that there are a lot of poor people in the tri-state area but I never knew just how many. My friends and I attend many of these programs and we also have my kids from the Hank’s Yanks baseball program collect canned goods and donate to the different boroughs. This year, Steve asked me to go with him to Yankee Stadium because at Christmas the Yankees have the biggest food drive in the city. Naturally I said, “Let’s do it.” We loaded my vehicle with over five hundred pounds of food and took off for the Stadium. As we were crossing the Triboro Bridge, a tractor trailer had overturned and we were stuck in traffic on the bridge and not moving. Steve started to get nervous because we had been on the bridge for over an hour with no hope of movement in sight. I told Steve not to worry that we would just take the food to Long Island Harvest, which is another pantry we deal with. Steve said that it had to be the Yankees. It was then that he explained how through all his suffering as a kid, the Bronx Bombers kept him going and how the spirit of Thurman Munson always made him feel like he had to always do the right thing. At that moment, he asked me if I could call someone so that when they cleared the bridge we could get it to the Yankees at the Stadium. At that moment I thought of one of the heads of security at Yankee Stadium named Gomez and even though he has such a demanding job, he always has the heart and makes the time to help people so I knew that he would help us. We are in short demand of people like this.

I was able to get Gomez on the phone, and I explained the situation.  When he called me back he explained that the food drive was over but to get the food to the Stadium and they would take care of it. Steve was so happy that he almost cried. This is not an exaggeration, it was as if it had to be done at all costs. When we got to the stadium, security was waiting and helped us unload the car. Before we left, Steve asked if we could take a picture by the Statue of George Steinbrenner.  When I took Steve’s picture next to the Boss, the big smile on Steve’s face told me that his Christmas chores were complete.

What the world needs now is more people like Steve Vaccaro and the Yankees, who are always there to help people in need.   I also need to thank Steve for making me understand why I continue to love the Yankees so much.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

–Ray Negron

Rooting For The Boss

Tell me that you want to meet a perfect man and I will show you God. With that being said, no matter how nice an individual is, how many people someone has saved, how many turkeys one has bought for the poor, you will always find some form of imperfection.

In life, no one is perfect. Some just know how to hide it better. Someone once told me that you never want to meet your heroes because you may not like what you find out about them.

If you ever read my book (Yankee Miracles) you find out that my initial experience in meeting Mickey Mantle was not a pleasant one. To me, Mantle was a “God”, yet he broke my heart on that day. I never looked at him in the same way for a very long time, however as time went on I saw the heart of who this man was. One day, Mickey said, “I’m your role model, don’t be like me.” Before he died, he tried so hard to make young people understand the dangers of alcohol abuse, what it did to him and the people that he cared about. His efforts that last year of his life truly made the Mick a hall of famer in my eyes.

If you have seem my play BATBOY, there is a scene where George Steinbrenner finds out that my cousin had been killed in a Bronx Street. He actually went to pick me up. I was there with a friend. As we were walking away he turned to my friend and asked him if he wanted a job also. Naturally my friend said yes and he ended up being a batboy in the visitors’ clubhouse at Yankee Stadium. To this day, my friend Hector Pagan says that being a batboy was one of the proudest moments of his life. Hector went on to become a state trooper and would be elevated to senior investigator for the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force. The support that George Steinbrenner had for law enforcement was a big influence in Hector choosing this career path. After thirty three years Hector will be retiring yet still says that next to the birth of his kids, his biggest thrill was being a Yankee Batboy.

When asked if George Steinbrenner belonged in the Hall of Fame, Hector responded by saying, “The world knew that he took the Yankees to another level in winning. That he made baseball fun again not just in New York, but everywhere. What the world didn’t know was how he could make someone like me who essentially came from nothing feel like I was really someone special. For that I will always be grateful. It helped me to learn how to be able to do my job efficiently yet always have a heart at the same time.”

Hector was one of many kids all around the country that got to know the Boss in a very different way. If you had to put a number on it would be impossible. He just did it to do it.

One of the classic lines that the Boss would throw at me was one time I had a group of kids in the park and I asked him if he would come over to say hi to them and his security told the Boss that the kids weren’t affiliated with any organization. The Boss immediately screamed out, “The Hell with Labels. Where are the kids?”

Michael B Jordan, the star of Black Panther and Creed, told me that he has known of the man known as the Boss since he was a kid and can’t believe that he is not in the Hall.

Chazz Palminteri, the star of a Bronx Tale and Oscar nominated actor, feels that the Boss almost reinvented the sport when he bought the Yankees from CBS.

Harold Reynolds, former all-star second baseman and sports anchor for MLB network, said,”The first time the Boss put his arm around me I knew he loved me. I loved his philanthropic ways to no end. I loved the way he treated you. This man is a Hall of Famer.”

Dave Valle, former catcher and broadcaster for the MLB network, said, “The first time I met Mr. Steinbrenner he took an interest in me as a person just because I was one of those New York City kids growing up. We had a nice conversation, and when the game that I was broadcasting went extra innings he knew of my famous appetite so he sent a bunch of hotdogs for me and my broadcast partner. That’s the man I knew. Yes he is a hall of Famer for so many reasons.”

 

Dick Vitale, famous basketball announcer and giant baseball fan. This is what he had to say–

“Come on Baby you know George Steinbrenner was and is a hall of Famer in more ways than one. He took Baseball and put it on the front pages. The good that he did for the sport and sports in general can’t ever be repaid .What he did for the good of man can’t definitely not be repaid Baby.”

 

Hall of Famer Wade Boggs put it very simple

“Absolutely- 100% when you think of owners in sports you think of one person George M Steinbrenner.”

 

In this life no one but no one is perfect.  The biggest lesson that I learned from this great man is that everyone deserves a second chance, sometimes a third, fourth and fifth,  as was the case with Billy Martin.  The Boss  always tried to find the good in everyone.  This time, why can’t we find the good in him? It would truly be a great “Bronx Tale.”

Negron: Through a Broken Heart, We Must Give Peace a Chance !

The Tree of life Synagogue was the scene of one of the worst disasters in the city of Pittsburgh’s history. When I heard the news the first thing I did was to call the family of Rabbi Arthur Schneier.

Rabbi Schneier is known as one of the most respected religious leaders in the world. The good Rabbi has been the head of the Park East Synagogue in New York for over thirty years and is the founder and President of The Appeal of Conscience foundation.

For over fifty years he has used this foundation to help promote peaceful coexistence through interfaith dialogue with organizations worldwide.

I know how blessed I am, and when situations like this happen I always feel like I have to try to extend a hand to thy fellow man.

Karen Dresbach who is the executive Vice President of the Appeal of Conscience foundation and the daughter of Rabbi Schneier answered the phone and immediately told me that her 87 year old dad had already sprung into action and was headed with other top officials in a private plane to Pittsburgh. I told Karen to let her father know that if he needed me to go to Pittsburgh that I would be there.

We need to help the people of our country and our world understand that our life is just to short to continue with this madness.

We are all people first. To waste time thinking about hate and jealousy is just maddening.

Our World is a beautiful world. The things that we can do with precious time is a blessing. To do evil crimes and then have to spend the rest of your life asking yourself ‘What did I do?’ is such a waste of life.

In the five years that I have gotten to know the good Rabbi Schneier I also got to meet some of the great world leaders and to a man they always say the same thing. Through Rabbi Schneier we promote love and peaceful coexistence within all races.

I thank God that Rabbi Schneier is in Pittsburgh with his army of people that understand that as John Lennon once said , We must GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!

Negron: Happy 78th Birthday John Lennon

Tuesday October 9th would of marked John Lennon’s 78th Birthday. The Iconic Beatle made such an impact in his 40 years on earth that to this day he is still so fondly remembered.

John Lennon once said give peace a chance, but like John f Kennedy Martin Luther king Jr and Muhatma Ghandi before him was shot down by those that just did not care for peace in this beautiful world.

In The fall of 1977 after Reggie Jackson became the king of New York because of one of the greatest performances in sports history , we went on a jog through Central Park and accidentally ran into John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono. I actually saw him first and stopped Reggie. Even though he would tell us that he knew nothing about baseball he recognized Reggie right away.

Reggie had been on the cover of so many newspapers and magazines that Hellen Keller would of recognized him.

Lennon immediately congratulated Reggie and kidded with him that he was more famous than all the other Jackson’s put together ( he was referring to Michael and the Jackson 5 ). He told Reggie that maybe he would go and see him perform sometime. Reggie said that he would love to invite him. I actually dropped off Reggies contact info to Lennon’s residence at the Dakota on 72nd Street but unfortunately we would never hear from Lennon.

It was a very sweet moment with an incredible person. What I loved the most was that even Reggie Jackson, the king of The greatest sport in the world at that time truly did understand the incredible magnitude of John Lennon.

Reggie really wasn’t a Beatles fan but he loved the fact that Lennon understood the magnitude of what Mr October had accomplished . The coolest thing that I remember was that when we started to run again Reggie would say ‘ Can you believe that a Beatle actually knew what I did’.

BATBOY… The play is back on October 17th at the Argyle Theatre in Babylon.
October 19th at Hostos Community College in the Bronx.
October 23rd at the Tilles Center In C.W. Post College.

Negron’s Batboy Tales

Burt Reynolds a true movie Star and nice man. 

In 1982 I got to work in my first movie. It was call Blue Skies Again. Warner Brothers produced it. It was a coming of age baseball comedy. It stared Harry Hamlin and I was actually a co-star in the film with Andy Garcia and Star Search heartthrob Joey Gian. (If you don’t believe me, you can look it up).

After that film my Florida agent, Dee Miller had me audition for a film call Smokey and the Bandit 2.

The part called for an African American actor. Since I had just played the part of Jerry Washburn, an African American, My agent  thought I could get away with it in this film also. What she forgot was that my skills as a ball player along with my Afro haircut pushed me over the edge.

The minute that I walked into the Miami studio, the first thing out of the casting directors mouth was ‘ your not really black, your Hispanic!  One of the other persons in the room who was reading my actor resume yelled out ‘ Do you know Dick Howser?  I was shocked because who would know Dick Howser other than a true baseball person that knew Howser and his time as a great Yankees coach.

Well to my surprise it was Burt Reynolds the star of this project and so many great films. Reynolds told me that Howser and he were very good friends and went to school together at Florida State in Tallahasee.

He said unfortunately your not right for this part but let’s do the test anyway just in case something else comes up.

Just that alone made my day. After the screen test was over I thanked Burt Reynolds for the opportunity and he said, I want to thank you because now I can tell Dick Howser that I had one of his Yankee people test for me. He said that I gave him ammunition to pull some pranks on Howser.

I guess he did because every time I saw Dick Howser after that he would say, Ray you ain’t no actor. Also that I made him look bad in front of Burt Reynolds then he would laugh.

I would never see Burt Reynolds again however that one experience with a true giant in the film business who was also so very sweet to me that day is something that I never forgot.

Dick Howser was always very proud of his friendship with Burt Reynolds and loved talking about what a wonderful person Burt Reynolds was. I only had 10 minutes with the man. Those 10 minutes told me that Dick Howser was telling it like it was about his friend Burt Reynolds.

Thanks for sharing your talents with all of us Mr Reynolds.

Rest In Peace.

Bird Flies High in Class 

How do you measure a N.Y. Yankee?

That’s a tough question because so many have failed the test. Not everyone that plays for the Yanks have the personality of a Bobby Murcer or a Bernie Williams or a Lou Gehrig. Those are giant shoes to fill.

The other day I was watching the post game show. This was a game after the new first baseman Luke Voit had homered and at the end of the game they brought in Greg Bird to pinch hit with the bases loaded. He hit a ball that was caught at the wall and the game was over.

When it came time to talk to the media Bird was there with his head held hi. He told them that he was disappointed and would just keep swinging.

There was one writer in particular that kept asking Bird how did it feel to see Voit doing so well playing his position. As a matter of fact the writer kept asking the same question in five different ways. To his credit Bird kept his cool and didn’t give the writer what he he was looking for. Bird showed tremendous class and never showed the writer that he was upset in any way.

When he told the writers that he was really enjoying the performance that Voit put on and all he wants is to win as a Yankee. I once heard Bobby Murcer say the same thing when he was traded back to the Yankees in 1979. The Boss told Bobby that he would be a backup player on the team and Bobby told him that he was just happy to be there to help the Yankees win in any way possible. What I loved about that was that I knew that Bobby Murcer meant it.

What I loved about the Greg Bird incident was that I know he meant it to.

It’s hard to put it into words what a true Yankee is because there are so many facets to it. However getting to know Bird the last couple of years I can honestly say that as a person, he is on his way to being a great Yankee.

Thanks for Your Service Ralph Cavalieri 

Your probably asking yourself who is Ralph Cavalieri? Well for your information Ralph is a hero from World War Two. He has won several distinguished medals for his efforts in that horrible war and has been a great example to any one that has known him. At the age of 92 he knows more about the Yankees than anyone I know dating back to 1939 to present day. I can say that I saw Mickey Mantle play. Well he can top me because he saw Lou Gehrig play. I saw Mickey’s farewell speech, well he saw Gehrig’s and Babe Ruth’s speech.

A friend of mine told me that Ralph wanted to have coffee with me. When I saw this man’s resume, I couldn’t wait to meet him. I went to his home for coffee and ended up staying for three hours. His story about the war was incredible and his story of his love for the Yankees was just fascinating. Ralph tried on my World Series ring and told me that it was a great thrill. Can you believe that, my ring. It’s people like Ralph and some of the people that I meet in my travels that continue to tell me why I’m still in love with this storied organization.

Thank you Ralph for all your service.

Negron’s Batboy Tales

Lucas Spina is a 4 year old boy with hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy. He has had 12 brain operations within the last 12 months. His momma, Danielle wants awareness in the pediatric community because of the underfunding and also because of the fact that there is no cure.

Lucas on the other hand is just happy to be at Yankee Stadium visiting his hero’s. The first Yankee to visit him was the young rookie Miguel Andujar.

When Andujar noticed one of the scars on Lucas head, you could tell that he was visibly touched.

He asked me what was the situation and after I explained he said that his love was with Lucas.

Through the rain and the help of all the Yankee good hearts Lucas and his mom had a day that they can always look back on and the pictures to prove it.

NICHOLAS NEVER FORGOTTEN

Nicholas Pedone Jr was seven years old when we lost him to a cancer known as neuroblastoma.

This week would of been his 12 th birthday. His parents Nick and Josephine told me that he was a gigantic Yankee fan and he loved Derek Jeter. His mom said that in her heart, little Nick would of transferred over to Aaron Judge now that Jeter was retired. My long time friend , Hall of fame artist John Pennisi told me about the Pedones and ask if it was possible for them to receive a special painting that he did in honor of their son. With the help of the wonderful Gleyber Torres and Coach Marcus Tymes the Pedones were totally surprised on little Nicks birthday with the portrait. What made it even better was that later in the evening Gleyber homered and dedicated it to the Pedone family.

I guess you can call it Yankee Magic.

Gleyber and Andujar understand their roles


Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar were two rookies that going into spring training were not supposed to make the Yankees. However due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control have become two of the biggest baseball stars in New York. With that fame and success on the field they continue to understand the importance in being a Yankee off the field. They understand before games , the importance in extending their hands to so many of the young people that come early to the park. They also have gotten to understand that some of these kids have medical issues and need a little extra sympathy and love. I can honestly say that I’m happy for these two young men and hope that they continue to make the people of New York proud. At the same time New York is very lucky to have them.

Like Sinatra, Levine gives High Hopes!

George Steinbrenner once said to me that since I was given a chance at doing good things with my life, all he expected back was that I always help thy fellow man.

A few years later  through my relationship with the Boss and Yanks manager Billy Martin, I would get to meet the great Frank Sinatra, both at Yankee Stadium and at the great Italian restaurant, Patsys.

In the process of several conversations, Mr Sinatra mentioned how important it was to always give young people opportunities and hope. “Always make young people feel like there isn’t anything that they couldn’t do. Let them always have High Hopes!”

He said that he once shot a segment of a show with a bunch of little kids and they sang his own song, High Hopes. What that moment meant to those kids and their parents was something that meant the world to him and years later he would run into some of those kids and they would tell him the impact that the opportunity had on their lives. It is something that I would never forget because Mr Steinbrenner and Billy were exactly the same way.

A couple of weeks ago I  went to the funeral of a young man that had been shot due to gang violence. His mom had told me that had she had the money for a baseball league fee that her son probably would still be alive.

And then just recently got a call from a friend of mine who told me about a young boy that was depressed because his family was not able to register him in youth baseball due to financial restraints. They were hoping that maybe through the magic of the Yankees this boys spirits and aspirations could be brought to another level. For over an hour on Tuesday morning I was stressing out over how I could make this dream come true. These are the dog days of the baseball season and the last thing that I wanted to do was to bother my supervisor, team President, Randy Levine.

After thinking it out carefully, I remembered what Mr Steinbrenner used to say to me. “If you think that you need to do something because it can help make things better than do it, but be willing to take the beating if it fails.”

So, I decided to call Mr Levine for help. I could tell that he was extremely busy but he asked about the situation and said that he would take care of it.

Let me just say that with the great assistance of Randy Levine and other Stadium personnel, some of the players from both the Yankees and White Sox and of course my great friends the Marrero family, a young boy from the tough streets of the Bronx has HIGH HOPES again. Young Nelson Santiago was just overwhelmed with the attention and couldn’t believe that Randy Levine and the New York Yankees would care about some Spanish kid from the Bronx.

Well Nelson, I can honestly say that they do and they have for a very long time.

I personally know that for a fact.

I was one of those Spanish kids from the Bronx.

Special thanks to The Boss, Billy and Mr Sinatra!

Surf King Bunger Leaves in Style

It wasn’t a funeral , it was a party and a celebration of life. There wasn’t enough time in the day because there were just so many people that wanted to show thier love and respect to thier surf king Charlie Bunger. People came from as far as Hawaii to honor this terrific individual who exemplified to me how to properly live life.

There were politicians, film actors , stage and film producers , people just from all walks of life who had one thing in mind , to honor a really nice  man.

The party started at Boyd Spencer Funeral Home where the line to get in at 2 pm was almost immediate. I couldn’t give you an exact number of people there. I can only say that it was truly wall to wall.

There was music and cookies and drinks. That’s how Charlie wanted it. For me the funniest quote of the day was when an attorney friend of ours walked in and he said that he didn’t know he was attending a Beach Boys concert. Most people were dressed in flowered shirts and shorts. Most people had flowered lays around thier necks and most of the conversation centered around the fun and escapades of this life loving person.

After the afternoon session ended they took Mr Bunger to his home in West Gilgo Beach for a little party at the beach. Every one followed the hurst to the West Gilgo Inn for a few beers and more celebration of life. There were even more people there and we all started chanting Charlie Bunger, Charlie Bunger. Tons of pictures were taken and when we drove by his home there were surfers there holding their surf boards in the air as the long black hurst drove through them.

When we got back to the funeral home, the lines were already forming.

The evening session was even more crazier. You could of used double the space. I failed to mention that surf boards were lined against the walls and instead of signing the book as you walk in people got to sign the surf boards. One of the surf boards was even signed by President Trump.

I unfortunately have attended many funerals in my life. I must say that l have never attended a funeral like this and this was the opinion of most there.  I don’t know how many people say that this is how I want to go out. Well this is how Charlie wanted it and I have to give his wife Janet and his family credit for allowing Charlie to have one final dream come true.

This was who Charlie was. Even in death he wanted everyone else to have a great time.

I didn’t know it was possible for people to have a great time at a funeral, but leave it to good old Charlie to make that happen. Charlie even picked one final song that his wife and daughters  and family danced to, Some where over the Rainbow.

Charlie Bunger financially was not a wealthy man but at one point during her speech his daughter Theresa asked by a show of hands how many people at one point or another had worked for Charlie and the number was staggering. Some of these people are very wealthy and credit Charlie for giving them a foundation in life. Charlie was very proud of being a mentor to so many of these kids. I guess that made him a very rich man.

WOW  his dream really did come true!