HBO Documentary Honors Latinos

Legendary singer, guitarist, and composer José Feliciano received the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award for his iconic musical career and for the inspiration that the visually impaired musician provided to so many others.

To have the great Tommy Mottola include me as his guest at the HBO produced documentary premier of the Latin explosion was an honor, and the following evening I was presented with the Humanitarian of the Year Award by Valerie Caicedo, founder of the film festival.

A New York City native, of Puerto Rican and Cuban ancestry, I had some difficult experiences in my childhood but thanks to New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in 1973, my life permanently changed for the better.

I was scrawling graffiti on the exterior of Yankee Stadium and was caught by the Yankee owner, George Steinbrenner.

For whatever reason, he decided to hire me to be the Yankee batboy for that day — and many after that.

I have been in baseball for over 40 years thanks to the second and third chances that he provided to me and many others.

I am extremely grateful to Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, and team President Randy Levine for letting me keep the spirit of the Boss so very alive, and in turn giving so many kids hope!

As a proud Hispanic American I am proud to live the American dream. I have been fortunate to have four successful children’s books and a memoir, called “Yankee Miracles” published and am currently co-host of radio talk show on WPAT, 930 AM, “Where I can tell it like it is”, on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm EST.

I thank producer/actor, Joey Dedio and the great Steven Van Zandt for developing the series sitcom, “Tio Papi” very loosely based on the comedic side of my life, and for believing in my creative soul.

In attendance at the event was Ido Aharoni, the consul general of Israel, who came to pay tribute to Feliciano and me.

He was very kind to me when I made a presentation to Seattle Mariner, Nelson Cruz at the United Nations last week for his philanthropic work here and in the Dominican Republic.

 Cruz surprisingly credits George Steinbrenner with being an influence in Cruz’s giving ways.

Daniel Quintero, the executive director of the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx introduced the club’s choir. They performed Jose’s very famous “Feliz Navidad.”

The performance earned a standing ovation led by Feliciano and in his closing remarks, the great entertainer said, “That version is better than mine. You should record it.”

There to honor the legendary Jose Feliciano by performing “Light My Fire” on the piano, was 13 year old, Anthony Dones, who also happens to be blind but does not let his affliction get in his way.

Thank you to longtime friend, Alfred Zaccagnino, a strong supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs, and schools around the city, who gives Christmas every year to those who cannot afford it.

It was a thrill for me to be honored on the same evening as the great Jose Feliciano.

I have always considered him to be a hero and being Puerto Rican, he was our Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

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.