A Baseball Father’s Day, Rife With Men and Memories

For baseball fans on Father’s Day at PNC Field, home of the Yankees triple-A ball club, there is nothing like the excitement of a day at the ballpark, especially when they get to reminisce with legends and icons of the past when they once again walk through the gates of a stadium.

The clout of the ball not as loud, the speed of the game slowed down, and the gentle smile of the player touches each fan, but the pinstripes never fade. Kudos to RailRiders’ owners Dave Abrams, Bob Mills, and Grant Cagle, who truly understand the meaning of what the Yankees are all about as they honored 1978 World Series MVP Brian Doyle.

Abrams said, “This event is our way of thanking our fans by enabling them to see their Yankees heroes and interact with them in an intimate setting, while sharing a special Father’s Day with their families.”

For players, it must be a humbling feeling for the greats as new players and faces take their place, but their place in the game and in the hearts of the fans is a generational cycle which keeps the love for the game alive through memories which make and break players.

What would Thurman Munson say on a day like this if he were alive? His death left a tremendous void as he was arguably one of the greatest catchers to play the game, but his life was cut short on that fateful day of Aug. 2, 1979, in a most horrific way.

Legendary Yankees such as Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Phil Rizzuto, Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, and Roger Maris, as well as many of their fans have passed on too, but still for today’s fans it’s the priceless memories and moments that remain.

“The idea for the event came after my friend Brian Doyle announced that he had Parkinson’s disease,” said RailRiders’ co-owner Grant Cagle. Our partnership with the New York Yankees has made this game possible, and we are glad that so many former Yankees are showing their support for Brian by joining us for this day.”

Former Yankee fan faves Mickey Rivers, Roy White, Charlie Hayes, Pat Kelly, Hector Lopez, Don Larson, and many others came back to celebrate a life of baseball.

Besides the game, which extended from five innings to six in a spirited performance, it was heartwarming when Reggie Jackson, Mickey Rivers, and Roy White got excited when I put on Thurman Munson’s number 15 in honor of our team captain.

 This is an incredible organization, first class all the way. And it was wonderful to share this special Father’s Day with my son Joe, who really had never been around the Yankees until now, and he got a great sense of what the pride of the Yankees signifies.

RailRiders Co-Owner Bob Mills said, “The players could not have been more giving. They played that sixth inning as a bonus to the fans. When they decided to play that extra inning for the fans, it showed that was truly for the love of the game.”

Proceeds from the event will benefit the National Parkinson Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Last weekend I visited with the kids at St Joseph’s Hospital in Scranton, Pa. I had an incredible time reading books to the kids along with George Steinbrenner’s godson and the RailRiders intern, Slater Fuchs. Then we headed over to PNC Field and marched with the Girl Scouts of America for their annual evening at the stadium. Last month I participated as the Railriders hosted the Boy Scouts of America for a “Henry & Me” movie night.

Earlier in the week, Bronx Chamber of Commerce President Lenny Caro and I visited with the kids and I gave a motivational speech at Public School 48 in the Bronx along with a former aide to President Obama, Michael Blake. The fact that we come from such diverse backgrounds showed the kids that they can achieve anything in life if they try hard enough.

Graduation time is here as I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the Bronx Aviation High School. It is incredible to see that when the kids hear that I was associated with George Steinbrenner they are so appreciative. The boss is never forgotten.

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.” For more of his reports, Go Here Now.