Negron: Clemente Would Pick Gio or Gleyber

The last couple of seasons have been great for the Yankees and the Bronx and New York in general. The reason for that is, when you’re the New York Yankees, it is important to do great things on the field but you also have an obligation to the people of this great city off the field as well.

The people, especially the youth of the city have become accustomed to have the players give a helping hand in any way possible. This has been going on since the days of Babe Ruth. In my research I don’t believe that there has ever been a player that did more for kids in New York than Babe Ruth. It was a true passion for the “Bambino.” He was raised in an orphanage with kids who essentially had nothing or no one. The Babe made a promise to himself and to God that if he ever made it in life he would always look out for the less privileged. I honestly believe that this is where Yankee benevolence was born. I also believe that when George Steinbrenner purchased the Yanks in 1973, the Yankees benevolent spirit was reborn in New York.

A couple of hundred miles away in Pittsburgh, there was a great, Black, Puerto Rican player with the Pirates who was doing great things on the field and off the field. He was doing so many wonderful things for his people that he became the most beloved person in that town. The great Roberto Clemente never felt that he had done enough when it came to helping people. That’s probably the reason that he perished in a tragic airplane crash.

There had been a major earthquake in Nicaragua, so Clemente commandeered an airplane and loaded it with food and supplies. Unfortunately, instead of just sending the plane, he felt that had to go along to make sure that everything went smoothly. Unfortunately you know what happened.

Wednesday, Major League Baseball presents the “Roberto Clemente Award” for doing great things off the field. One player from each team is nominated and the winner is announced during the World Series. The Yankees candidate is Giancarlo Stanton. Nice guy and I know he has done his share. I sincerely congratulate him and hope he wins the big award at the World Series. With that said I personally have to congratulate Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres for all the wonderful things that these two Yankees have done since getting to New York and putting on the Pinstripes.

When the announcement for the Clemente Award was going to be made I really expected it to be either Gio or Gleyber and would’ve been happy either way. To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement because they left their blood, sweat and tears at the schools and hospitals and parks that I took them to visit.

Last year when the great P.R. Director for the Thurman Munson foundation, John Cirillo, called me about who I thought should win the award, I said ‘Gio or Gleyber.’ I said that I couldn’t pick either one because they both had done so much. Well, they went with Gleyber. Either way I was more proud of these two kids than I had been with any Yankees in my 47 years around the Bronx Bombers.

I’m hoping that this coming year Gio will get The Munson Award because he wholeheartedly deserves it. I honestly believe that when these players get a chance to help people especially the kids, they take that positive energy on the field. George Steinbrenner really believed that. When we would get to playoff time he would say ‘Ok it’s time to really concentrate on winning so save the off the field stuff till after the World Series.’

I’m so grateful to Team President Randy Levine for always understanding the importance of what these players do off the field and like George Steinbrenner, always having a love for the people of the community. Of course we all know what the Steinbrenner family means to all us Bronx people. Brian Smith and the Yankee foundation… invaluable! Gleyber congratulations on winning the Thurman Munson Award and Gio Urshela… Nobody Does It Better.

(Photo courtesy of Ray Negron)

Kids Still the Best Part of Yankees Legacy

“Having Yankees players visit the school is like an ‘injection of love and inspiration’ for our children and school community. Players like Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela have uplifted our communities and even for a moment in time our children feel that they belong and are appreciated by the world. Sadly, if it were not for the Yankees player visits, our community often feels abandoned, and this is why I encourage more people to get involved in our community. The players visiting our school is not just a photo opportunity, we must leverage these visits to inspire our youth and bring light to the darkness around us. I pray for the day that I could wake up in a world that is equitable for all children.”

— Luis Torres, Principal, CS55 – Bronx. N. Y.

Babe Ruth was the greatest baseball player of all time but not just for the reasons that you think. Yes he hit giant homeruns and he helped the Yankees win championships.

You can also say the same thing for Lou Gehrig, who was (and still is) a true legend, Joe Dimaggio, Thurman Munson, Reggie, Bobby Murcer, Derek Jeter, and Robinson Cano. All are star players.

Yet, when it came to the kids, especially the less privileged ones, they had the biggest hearts in the world.

I’ve worked for the New York Yankees for the better part of six decades.

I’ve always had “go to guys” lined up; those who would help me out by going to schools, hospitals, and youth centers; going to those places to encourage and support — kids.

Alex Rodriguez was truly incredible during the 10 years he played for the Yankees.

Alex did things that would shock you, but did them in a very positive way.

He spiritually and financially helped me to keep a little league program alive.

Hundreds of kids in the Bronx would not have been able to play baseball during all of those summers. The reason this is so important to and for me is because as a young kid George Steinbrenner literally saved my life.

I always used to ask him how I could pay him back. He used to smile at me saying, “Just help to take care of your community.”

That help was a big deal for the Boss.

When Mr. Steinbrenner paid an initial visit to P. S. 55 years ago the impact he had remains alive in that place to this day. A letter from the Boss still hangs in the hallway for all to see.

When I take players there, the first stop is always to see that letter.

I promised Mr. Steinbrenner that I would always do the right thing in his honor.

Many of my family members I grew up with are no longer here.

Had they had a mentor or friend like George Steinbrenner, I would bet that half of them would still be alive today. In the last couple of years I have had Gleyber Torres, who actually won the Thurman Munson award for community service, and Gio Urshela, who I would be shocked if he didn’t win it next year, help me in countless and tireless ways with so many kids.

When John Cirillo of the Munson Foundation talked to me last year about who should win that award, I told him that you had to split that award in half because Gleyber and Gio were equally incredible in the way they extended their heart and soul to the community.

I pray and hope that the Yankees realize how wonderful these two guys are and how, in a very quiet and dignified way, they went out of their way to help so many. Even during the coronavirus pandemic Gleyber and Gio have appeared in videos encouraging kids to do the right thing.

I’m very proud of how the Yankees have always been leaders in helping those truly in need.

After we lost George Steinbrenner 10 years ago, the organization, through the leadership of team president Randy Levine, COO Lonn Trost, the Steinbrenner famil,y and of course our vice president of community relations Brian Smith, have taken our community relations juggernaut to the next level.

Last week, I met with Randy Levine and Brian Smith at Yankee Stadium to hear how much has been done — even during this tumultuous time; accomplishments that would make the Boss very happy. Knowing George Steinbrenner, he would have had his sleeves rolled up and would have been with us helping all who need needed help — especially kids.

Yankees Miracle Continues, Bridging Divides

Eight years ago I authored a book, “Yankee Miracles.”

One of the stories naturally discusses the day that George Steinbrenner caught me doing graffiti outside Yankee Stadium and how he gave me a job as a Yankee batboy.

It also talks about how he knew that I wasn’t responsible for all the tagging that was being done on the Stadium that year but he was sure that I knew who was doing it.

The Boss said that he didn’t want me to tell him who they were but that if I wanted to keep the job as a batboy that I would let the people responsible know to back off.

Well I delivered that message and the powers that be in the neighborhood did the right thing for the Yankees — and for me.

Forty seven years later we have ongoing nationwide protests.

It turned ugly in some cities, as anger turned into looting.

I personally felt that it was important that I attend as many of the protests as possible so I could understand what people were really feeling. I also wanted to see how many people sincerely cared about the issues.

I can honestly report that I went to protests in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island, and naturally the Bronx.

The Bronx is personal to me because I was born there and of course the Yankees are there.

The first night things got ugly so I called many of my acquaintances and friends that live there, including former Yankee Batboy Luis Castillo, and we visited the local housing projects including Trinity and Soundview.

We visited with many of the guys from the surrounding neighborhoods, brought food that was donated by Puerto Rico USA and Bagels Chalet. We even shared some pizza pies that were donated by Rosas from Great Neck.

During these “pow-wows” we talked about our love of the Yankees.

I shared with them the fact that George Steinbrenner was the first Yankee owner going out of his way to hire as many neighborhood people as possible. I also explained how Mr. Steinbrenner went out of his way to hire as many minorities possible. I went further, explaining that to me this was personal because of all the years that I’ve invested at the stadium, as well as my love of the Yankee brand.

I also shared a laugh with them when I said that the fact that many of them wore Yankee caps, I knew that Yankee Stadium would always be protected by them.

One of the guys asked me if the Yankees asked me to come here and I said, “No, I came because Yankee Stadium has always been my cocoon. The Stadium saved my life.”

They all knew my story and just wanted to know if the Boss, as Mr Steinbrenner is still known in these Bronx’s streets, was all that. I replied, “He was all that and more!”

Luis and I left with a good feeling about our visits to the different projects and the fact that many of the people are as big of a Yankee fan as I am.

I’m not saying that my visit with some of these very tough “hombres” was vital in what could have happened at the Stadium, however if some possible crazy things might be going on outside of your house aren’t you going to do everything possible to protect it?

Besides, 47 years ago the Boss asked me to deliver a message so, I guess I’m still delivering that message.

I want to thank all the guys in the Bronx. It was great “breaking bread” with you and I appreciate the respect.

Thanks Squeegee for getting me into some places that I couldn’t have gotten into by myself.

We Need to Listen, Learn, and Grow Together

I have seen New York through many of its lowest lows and highest moments in my lifetime. From “The Bronx is Burning” of the late 1970’s through the boom in this century I know we are a city of resilience.

We are a people who usually make me very proud.

Most of my life, from the time I was 17-years-old, I have also been honored to be associated with the New York Yankees; from batboy to community consultant.

It is as much a part of my DNA as my Latino blood is; that also makes me proud.

Every day I lay in bed. I don’t fall asleep until my youngest son Ricky gets home.

If my older son is working then I won’t have a comfortable night because he works at night. They are two of the most decent people that I’ve ever known.

I must add that I love them like a mother hen. I’m so proud of what they do because they are proud. They want to be the best at what they do. They both made sacrifices to become police officers. My oldest son, Jon-Erik, had a cushiony job at Chase Manhattan Bank and he was good at it. My youngest son Ricky, was playing professional baseball.

They both became Suffolk County Police Officers for the same reason: they wanted to help people. I’m not saying that Ricky was going to be an all-star baseball player because he wasn’t. However, if he had the same passion in baseball as he has at being an honorable police officer then he might have had a chance.

Throughout the years they’ve both gotten to witness firsthand my work for the Yankees.

They got to know the Yankee owner, George Steinbrenner.

They got to see him instill kindness and goodness into me so that I would share what I received from him — to others. He would tell them the importance of what I had to do in these New York communities, so that I could help humankind.

Everyone knows the story of Mr. Steinbrenner catching me outside Yankee Stadium engaging in painting graffiti. Instead of having me arrested he made me a Yankee batboy.

Yet, some people thought he was making a mistake by giving me this opportunity, but as we all got to know about the Boss, we found that you didn’t tell him what to do.

The one thing that he told me was, “Don’t you ever make me look bad.”

I once asked him how I could possibly pay him back?

He responded, “Never forget where you came from and never be afraid to extend a hand to the young people that will follow you.” I’ve always taken his words to heart and I think that my sons live by that code also.

Being a police officer is not always what you see on television.

Last week my son, Jon-Erik got a call about a mother going into labor. As a result, he delivered his fourth baby. Another time a baby wasn’t breathing and he had to clear the infant’s throat in a difficult procedure.

When the baby started to breathe Jon-Erik cried with joy.

Today — he is that child’s godfather.

With Ricky, I had the scare of my life because I was pulled out of a theater because he was involved in a shootout and taken to a hospital. I didn’t know if he was OK.

My eyes were filled with tears because I was so scared.

I thank God that Ricky was alright. He was not shot as was my first thought.

These days I attend these protest rallies because I want to respect the cause.

I have always been a fan of Dr. Martin Luther King — and peaceful protest.

I also want to see young people do the right thing.

I want them to know why they are there and not because “Joe from upstairs ” is going.

I also fear for the safety of our police officers and want people to understand that almost every one tries to do the right thing. Coming from the streets of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, I’ve had my fair share of experience with NYPD and I will say that most of the time I thanked God that they were there.

The past couple of weeks were no different.

While I attended a rally with my Yankee cap on, I almost got into a bit of a scuffle with some young people who were looking only for trouble; they ignored all the peaceful protesting going on around them and wanted to spark violence.

In all honesty it was my Yankee cap, which many young people identify with, and the kindness and calm of others, including several police officers, that diffused a very ugly situation, helping instill calm.

And speaking of the Yankees, baseball, even on these streets, remains common-ground for discussons. The amount of Yankees hats that I saw in the crowd, from every walk of life, is astounding.

If baseball returns would it help ease tensions?

I’d like to think so, because it’s common-ground for so many.

We need the game just like we need healthy discussion, and we need the helping presence of good people in law enforcement. During our darkest moments in our country’s history, baseball was always there. I’m not saying that it will settle everything, but many of the protesters who know me always had the same question, “When is baseball coming back?”

As someone who has seen this escalating from so many sides, the community as well as from the badge, I am hopeful that we will all meet in a proper place. We need to listen, we need to learn and we need to grow together. It’s not easy. I have seen us overcome issues before and use sport, and baseball, as a unifying point, and I think we will again. Until that happens we need to be smart, be safe, and keep finding common ground.

I thank my kids and all who are in public service, and I thank all people for believing in America. I have great faith that we all just want to make it better.

Negron: Gleyber’s Big Heart

Ever since this whole Corona Virus situation has been going on, I have been explaining, to budding Yankee super star Gleyber Torres, why players like him were better off being home instead of going to some of these front line places like hospitals etc. to give a helping hand. I told him that if some of the front liners knew he was there, that it would take away from the subject at hand, which is taking care of the sick people. A lot of days he sees what is happening through my Instagram post and says that there has to be something That he can do.

Over the last few weeks he has done videos and passed along words of encouragement. This week he went a step further by purchasing food to help feed many families including some mothers and their kids that are unfortunately put into shelters because of abuse situations or just unfortunate economic scenarios. This weekend he even rewarded my volunteers at the food pantry, where we distribute food, with a great pizza meal. The volunteers loved the pizza but the fact that it was a reward from Gleyber meant the world to them. It actually made them want to work harder.

The moms at the shelter were so happy that some would even cry because a New York Yankee actually gave a damn about them during these very tumultuous times, and I’m not just talking about the Corona Virus situation. At the end of the day I just hope that Gleyber understands what he did and the impact that he has had with people and the impact that he can have in this world, both as a New York Yankee and as a good person.

DIAMOND DUST……..
On this Memorial Day I want to thank Former Yankee employee and U.S. Air Force serviceman Ken Fagan for his service to the Yankees because he went beyond the call of duty there. Ken knows what I’m talking about and George Steinbrenner would be proud. I also want to thank him for his service to our country. Ken fought in two wars and flew on many combat missions. The Boss was very proud of that. I know how proud he was to know Ken Fagan.

Making the Most of 2nd Chance From Steinbrenner

Ray Negron and George Steinbrenner (Courtesy Ray Negron)

Out of respect to Cope 2 and Slone, two of the greatest graffiti artists of all time, I must admit that I was not doing graffiti art when I was caught by George Steinbrenner in 1973. I was doing a simple interlocking “NY” with blue spray paint on the wall outside Yankee Stadium on a dare from the guys that I was with. It was a true case of peer pressure.

As fate would have it, a car drove up on the sidewalk and two guys jumped out. In the scramble to get away, I bumped into one of the other guys, stumbled and I was the one who was caught. The men dragged me to a holding cell within Yankee Stadium with the intention of sending me over to the 44th precinct.

For whatever reason, the two men came back to the makeshift jail area and told the cops stationed there to “give them the kid.” I was extremely confused, almost disoriented because I had never been in trouble before,and now I was wondering where these two guys were taking me. To say that I was scared was the all-time understatement.

The two guys each held me by my arms as they dragged me down a dark hallway. One of the guys seemed angrier than the other and kept saying, “You can’t help these kids.” All of a sudden we stopped at a black metal door and we walked in and it was as if we were walking into the Land of Oz.

We were in the Yankee locker room. Beautiful bright pinstriped uniforms were hanging all around every locker and some of the players that I recognized from television were actually sitting at their lockers.

The one guy that seemed to be the boss introduced me to an elderly man that he called Pete. The boss man told me that I had a choice. I was either going to work for Pete in the clubhouse or go to jail. I was a dumb kid, but I wasn’t that dumb, so naturally I agreed to the work.

The other guy seemed very disturbed with what this man was doing for me and again he blurted out that he was making a mistake. But the guy told him to shut up and that he was in charge. The man told me to listen to Pete and do whatever he said. In a threatening voice, he looked me dead in the eyes and said, “Don’t you make me look bad. (That was my “PG Statement” — kids may be reading this). Then the two men walked out of the clubhouse.

Pete walked me to a locker and asked me if I knew who the man was who just gave me this opportunity?

I said, “No.”

Pete told me that he was George Steinbrenner, the new owner of the New York Yankees. Pete stared at me up and down and I wondered why. He walked away and then he came back with a Yankee uniform and said, “This should fit you.”

A real Yankee uniform and a real Yankee cap! In my neighborhood you only dreamed of having a real Yankee cap because we could never afford one. Pete introduced me to the other batboy’s and they showed me the ropes. Pete Sheehy could not have been nicer. He had been with the Yankees since the days of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. In time he would tell me incredible stories about all of the Yankee greats. At one point, when I would become close to Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson and Bobby Murcer, Pete would love to tell me that he was the same way with Babe and Lou. I used to think about how incredible that was. That day, I learned how to clean shoes and shine helmets, fold towels and how to put the underwear in the right locker.

Ron Blomberg was actually the first player to come over and introduce himself to me, he even offered me a bagel. Because he was one of the few Jewish players in the big leagues, a lot of proud Jewish fans used to wait outside the stadium and bring him bagels and lox.

During batting practice I got to shag in the outfield. I learned how to put the bats in the right slots in the bat rack in the dugout. Bobby Murcer and Thurman Munson got a big kick out of the way that I became a batboy. That was the big laugh in the clubhouse that day. I was actually very embarrassed, but acted like it didn’t bother me.

I have to say that when I put on that uniform I couldn’t help but to think of Gehrig in the movie “The Pride of the Yankees” when he got his uniform and he kept looking in the mirror. Man what a proud moment for me. When it was game time I was so nervous standing in the dugout.

Bobby Murcer came over to me and said that I looked scared. I said that I was, and he asked me what I was going be doing during the game. I told him that I was the ball boy on the right field foul line. Bobby told me to run out on the field with him when the organist, Eddie Layton, played “Here Come The Yankees.” I have to tell you that this was one of the biggest thrills of my life.

We played the Cleveland Indians that day and we won. It was a big victory for George Steinbrenner because he was from Cleveland and he had tried to purchase the Indians. After the game, he came into the clubhouse and acted as if we had just won the pennant. He was really happy. After the game we had to collect all the shoes, scrape all the dirt off the bottom and shine them. We picked up the towels and the underwear that the players threw on the floor and took them to the laundry room.

When I finally finished, I was instructed to go see Mr. Steinbrenner by the managers office. He asked me how did I like my job. I said, “It was great!” He asked me if I wanted to keep it and I said, “Yes sir I would.” He asked me how was I in school and I told him that I was just fair. He said that I was to improve my grades and he said,”Oh and naturally you and your friends won’t do graffiti on Yankee Stadium anymore right?” I said, “Yes sir.”

My mom and my father had been called and they picked me up that night. It was the only time they ever met George Steinbrenner. Before I left, Mr. Steinbrenner told me not to ever let him down because he was taking a chance on me even though people that worked for him told him that he should not. He went into his pocket and handed me money for carfare. He said, “Tomorrow is a day game; don’t be late.” That was my very first day as a Yankee batboy.

Forty-seven years later I can honestly say that it is the most wonderful job that I have ever had. Years later, I would ask the Boss why he would do that for me, and he said that when the security guard told him that there is nothing you could do for this kid, I knew you deserved a second chance.

I remember thanking him for saving my life and he said, “I didn’t save your life. Your story was told long before I met you.” It wasn’t until recently that I truly comprehended what he meant. I asked “the Boss” how I could pay him back and he said, “Just don’t forget where you come from and never be afraid to help those in need.”

Today with this whole coronavirus situation going on, I think of the Boss and how he would have been handling this. I think about the fact that out of the four guys that were with me that first day, two are dead and the other two were always in and out of prison, so the blessing that this man gave me overwhelms me to this day. There has to be a God or else how could all of this have happened.

So today and every day that I get up and as the Yankees Community Consultant I go to wherever I can in the city to help deliver food and whatever else is needed with many volunteers including my dear friend and psychologist Steve Vaccaro. We try to work extra hard in the Bronx with some people that fall between the cracks.

One of the Bronx school principals, Luis Torres said that he needed a way to keep the kids in the house, so we came up with the idea of doing a movie night through the public access television station, Bronxnet. Many families in the Bronx saw the animated film that I was the creator of and also the executuve producer. After the telecast, Principal Torres said, “Tonight we actually saved lives by keeping all those families home.” I was so very proud and happy about this because it would not have happened without the magic of George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees.

As the Boss would say, “We’re Yankees it’s what we do!”

Ray Negron is a sports executive with over 40 years of experience in baseball. His first job came from a chance encounter with George Steinbrenner as a youth. He has become an American film producer, a best-selling author, and a philanthropist. His memoir is entitled, “Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers.” 

Negron: Thanks, Hank

The other day I was walking in my Babylon neighborhood when I saw this giant of a man walking towards me. I instantly knew who it was because at 6 foot, 10 inches, he is the tallest man in this village. His name is Max Watt and he was one of the original members of the legendary youth baseball team, “Hank’s Yanks.” The first thing out of his mouth was, “I have been meaning to call you to express my feelings about the passing of Hank Steinbrenner.” At that moment I said to Max, “Please do me a favor, don’t tell me, tell the world.”

Here are Max’s words and feelings about Hank Steinbrenner:

As I, Max Watt, learned of the incredibly sad news of the passing of Hank Steinbrenner a lot of thoughts and emotions went through my mind. I reflected on how lucky I was to have not only met this great man, but to have spent some quality time with him as well. Thanks to Ray Negron I was able to experience these moments in my life by being invited to play on “Hank’s Yanks” a team sponsored by Hank Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees.

This team opened up my life to so many opportunities and experiences I would’ve never thought I would even come close to experiencing. Without this team I would not be the man I am today, I would not have had the life experiences I have had and I wouldn’t have the accomplishments I have been able to achieve in my life. Without meeting Hank, and being one of the lucky few to be on this team, I wouldn’t have been able to receive a scholarship to play baseball in college, nor would I have had the opportunity to play Minor League Baseball for the Boston Red Sox.

All of those things are great, but most importantly without Hank I wouldn’t have been able to learn and grow into who I am today. That’s why I am forever thankful to have met this great man.

—-Max Watt

Hank Steinbrenner’s Story Was a True Bronx Tale

At the end of Hank Steinbrenner’s life it was tough to get together, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

We had to be careful to not possibly bring the virus around.

The last time we actually did together, I knew that I and Aris Sakellaridis, who was also very close to Hank, would not be seeing him again.

Aris and I were there with him, with very heavy hearts.

We went to see Hank with the intent of spending 10 minutes.

We ended up staying for four hours.

Hank wanted to have fun and laugh so we decided to watch a Richard Pryor show.

I laughed more at him laughing then I did at Richard Pryor.

I laughed so hard that tears streamed down my face.

I have to admit that half of those tears were due to my own sadnessof my sadness; I guess they served as good camouflage.

In between the “horsing around” as we usually did during our visits, and Aris screaming at Hank to get up so that they could go to the front yard to play catch one more time, as was their routine, I could tell that Hank was having a great time. I could also tell that he was getting very tired so we told him that we were going to leave so he could rest.

Hank at that moment “ordered” us to stay and watch one more movie.

Aris screamed, in his standard sarcastic manner, “I don’t work for you! But I’ll stay of course because I like Clint Eastwood in “‘Pale Rider.'”

The movie was an an all time favorite of Hanks.

We all laughed because that was classic Aris.

Hank knew me very well and asked when I would be running into the fire, referring to the coronavirus situation in New York. He knew how seriously and personally I took my city, as well as the people living there.

Hank always used to tell me I couldn’t save the world but he loved the fact that I thought that I could.

For several years, Hank Steinbfrenner actually became a regular visitor to the Bronx. He got to know the people there. On several occasions he visited schools and actually didn’t make it to Yankee Stadium.

That’s how seriously he felt about the people in the Bronx and I have to add that the kids loved him.

Just about halfway through the film, he fell asleep. I looked at Aris and I said, “Let’s go.”

As we were leaving, Hank woke up and asked us if we were coming tomorrow.

I said yes.

I knew we weren’t, but I didn’t want to disappoint him. He told me not to leave for New York without letting him know, and if l left to tell Max, his assistant.

As we walked out, Aris said that he really would have liked to give Hank the cross that he wore around his neck. I said, “then go back in the room and give it to him.”

Aris said that Hank wouldn’t take it. So I told him to force it on him. Aris walked back into the room and said,”Hank this is for you.”

Hank saw it and said, “No that’s yours.”

Aris told him that he wanted him to accept it, so Hank lowered his head and Aris put it aroound his neck.

Hank always had the greatest smile and with that he warmly said, “Thanks Pal!”

We knew that when we got into my car that we had seen Hank for the last time.

Not a word was spoken as we drove from Hank’s home in Clearwater to St. Petersburg, Florida.

Today I’m in New York trying to help as many people as possible in anyway possible during this pandemic. I have two sons who are police officers.

They are on the front line in the frot line of duty.

I worry about them every day.

There are many who are hungry; we’re helping them, along with doctors and nurses needing support. It’s an every day thing in New York. I would not be who I am today if it wasn’t for this city and all the great people that I have met here.

One of the great things that happened at one point this week was that I got calls from Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela asking if there was anything that they could do to help.

I thought that was a beautiful thing. I told them that when things got back to normal I would love for them to just do what they always do, visit the kids at the schools.

I think of Hank Steinbrenner every day.

I miss him.

He was a beautiful person with a crazy, yet wonderful soul.

I wish you would have known him the way Aris Sakellaridis and I knew him.

To us — he was just Henry.

I produced an animated film a few years ago “Henry & Me.” Hank voiced his father, George. Hank was quite proud of his work in that film. Kidding around he used to say that he didn’t want to show up Richard Gere or Chazz Palminteri, who also provided voices in the film.

Hank Steinbrenner was a different kind of guy. He was special and he will be missed.

Just ask a bunch of kids in New York known as Hank’s Yanks.

That’s a story for another day.

Negron: Oh Danny Boy. Mr. Aiello was a True New York Treasure.

Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling. That’s the opening sentence to the great song, “Oh Danny Boy.” Through the years different celebrities named Danny have inherited that song including the great comedian, actor Danny Kay and of course Danny Thomas who used the song as the theme to the great television show “Make Room for Danny.”

However, yesterday I sat at Riverside Memorial Chapel and celebrated the life of Danny Aiello. I couldn’t get the song out of my head. I had always loved the song and if you knew Danny, then you would understand why the song would fit Danny like a glove.

I had known Danny for probably 25 years. He was truly bigger than life. He was a true movie star. He was very proud of his accomplishments in the industry. He was truly a rags to riches story. I looked up to him because when I saw Danny Aiello, I saw a man that represents the fact that anything was possible in life. Your talking about a man who at the age of 40, would become a very respected actor.

By 50, he would become an actor that was truly in demand. Oh and by the way he would be nominated for an academy award for the Spike Lee classic film Do The Right Thing.

Danny would win many acting awards for his film and stage work. This from a man that didn’t take an acting lesson. He was one of the sweetest people that you would ever meet. When he was doing good, you were doing good because he would share his success and happiness with his family, friends and sometimes even complete strangers.

All people loved this man because Danny wasn’t afraid to give of himself when needed. He wasn’t afraid to visit Black or Latin neighborhoods and tell these kids to dream big and he would let them know that they mattered just as much as anybody. He also would tell them that it was better to live life as a good and respected person. The one thing that he told a very troubled kid that was feeling sorry for himself and acted like a wise guy was, ‘Son, you must earn respect. I’m so happy that I have film footage of Danny talking to these kids and I love sharing them on my Instagram.

Danny was also a very proud man. I loved that about him. He wasn’t afraid to tell you that he felt that he was a very solid and accomplished actor, and he was. What he did in “Moonstruck,” “Do the right Thing,” etc, will live forever, however the film that represents Danny’s most sensitive and passionate work is an animated film that I am the executive producer of called Henry & Me based on my first children’s book called The Boy of Steel. It’s the story of a little boy with cancer. Danny played the Doctor. Danny is so good in it that the great actor Richard Gere refused to take top billing. Richard, Chazz Palminteri and Danny shared equal billing. Danny’s nephew, the great Yankee announcer Michael Kay plays himself in the film. This was important to me because it would be the first time that they would work together. Danny was very proud of his work in Henry & Me because of what it represented to the kids of the world. I was and will always be so proud that he did this for me. Now more than ever I will start showing this film throughout as many schools as possible. If for no other reason than just so we can enjoy Danny’s performance in one of his last films.

The Chapel was full to the raptors with hundreds of people that felt like Danny was their best friend. That’s the effect that Danny had on you. You could never get enough of this true New York legend.

When we were doing the voice overs for Henry & Me, my friend Aris was taking pictures of the event. One of the other producers was telling Aris to put away the camera, however if you know Aris then you know that the former corrections officer doesn’t give a damn what anyone has to say if he thinks they are wrong so he took the pictures anyway. Danny always loved that Aris could be defiant. Afterwards Danny was so happy that Aris held his ground and had the pictures. I think the other producer is now happy that that memory was recorded by Aris.

If you knew Danny Aiello then you have your own memories and personal moments with him because he was so giving of himself. If you didn’t know him, then I feel very bad for you because you missed out on a true New York treasure. I know that Danny and his assistant, Luis Baldonieri, would want to thank Charlie Santoro of the Yes Network for always helping Danny when needed.

I want to thank the New York Yankees because in his first film, Bang the Drum Slowly, he got to play the part of a Yankee. He would root and love the Yankees forever. He loved the fact that the Yanks always welcomed him at Yankee Stadium and treated him like the star that he was.

Negron: Vera Clemente, Baseball and Puerto Rico’s Great Ambassador

One of my big thrills will always be when I had Doc Gooden visit Mrs. Roberto Clemente ( Vera ) at the Clemente Sports City in Puerto Rico.

We had kids come from all around the island to visit with Gooden. Doc would talk to the kids about the beauty of baseball then he would teach the kids different grips on the baseball and talk to them about the mistakes that he had made in life. Mrs. Clemente was an incredible host who told us some wonderful stories about her courageous and wonderful husband, Roberto. This trip occurred right after Doc signed with the Yankees in the winter of 1995. Gooden never forgot how sweet Vera was. She just met the famed Dr. K but she would instantly treat him like a family member. She would show instant concern over Dwight’s health situation. That is how she termed his drug problem at that time because she didn’t want to embarrass the good Doctor.

Her son, Roberto Jr., had been a Yanks radio announcer on the Spanish side so she was very familiar with the legend of George Steinbrenner and not in the least surprised at the fact that the Boss would take a chance on Gooden. I remember after our goodbyes that day that Gooden would turn to me and say, meeting Mrs. Clemente must be how it would feel to meet Mrs. Martin Luther King.

That’s a pretty good analogy Mr. Gooden.

This week we lost Mrs. Clemente. I can only say that baseball and Puerto Rico could not of had a better ambassador.

Rest In Peace, dear lady.