Negron: Hal Steinbrenner And The Yankees Making An Impact In 2017

TAMPA – Yankee fans are probably the most passionate of all sports fans. They just can’t get enough news about their team. They want to hear from the media, they want to hear from the manager and general manager, but when they get to hear it directly from the man who signs the checks that’s the only time a Yankee fan truly feels satisfied.

I got a chance to sit down with Hal Steinbrenner in his Tampa office and I got to appreciate how well the Yankees co-owner really does know his team. Fans have to understand I have known this young man since he was eight years old.

And to see how he has grown up to be one of the leaders of the Steinbrenner family and really truly cares about the direction of this mighty organization makes me feel quite proud.

Steinbrenner was good enough to sit down with NY Sports Day and ESPN Deportes and I hope you fans appreciate – as I do –  the fact he is trying to lead the Yankees back to prominence.

Ray Negron: I am here with the Yankees Co-Chairman Hal Steinbrenner. 2017, how do you feel about it?

Hal Steinbrenner: Every year is exciting. It’s a fresh start. This year, though, it’s different because all of the young talent, all of the young kids we have. Guys like (Greg) Bird, who has already been up here. (Luis) Severino and (Aaron) Judge. But also some other guys. (Gary) Sanchez is also in that group. Other guys like Chance Adams and (James) Kaprielian, who we might see this year. It’s just a lot of youth. It’s been a lot of years since we had since we had such a good nucleus of young talent. So it’s exciting.

RN: Diane Munson was here this weekend with the Yankees ladies fantasy camp asking about Gary Sanchez. What’s your feeling on Gary Sanchez?

HS: Obviously he had a tremendous start to his Major League career. We will see about this year, but he is the real deal. He has the temperament for New York, just a tough catcher, and it’s going to be exciting to see his numbers after a full year.

RN: Hal Steinbrenner 2017 as opposed to Hal Steinbrenner 2011 or 12. You seem to be more into the team and more into the knowledge of your team. How do you feel about that?

HS: We’ve grown up with these players. We have been talking bout them the last three, four, and five years. We have high hopes for them and through the years, they have progressed perfectly. In some cases, without a hitch. It’s great to finally see them at this level because we have been following them for so long. It’s exciting.

RN: What about the fact the Bronx has taken a real surge with the Yankees and want to be involved with the Yankees?

HS: I think it’s tremendous. We monitor social media and we know what our fans are saying, conventional media as well. Everybody is very excited. They all want to be part of this youth movement. They see great potential as we all do. Everyone is pretty keyed up about this year.

RN: Our fans are pretty bright. They know the Yankee history. They also seen you grow up with the Yankees. Do you feel the aspect that you have a true responsibility to these people?

HS: We always felt we have a responsibility to these people. That’s why we do our best every year. If we have money come off the payroll, for instance, we do our best to put as much of it back into the club as we can. We know what our fans excellence and they expect to win. We try to give them that. We do our very best. That has not changed.

RN: I am going to let you go. Thank you so very much. You have us some good news and I thank you for that.

HS: I hope the year pans out very well and I hope we live up to everyone’s expectations. Thanks Ray.

Weekends belong to Ray on ESPN 1050AM on Impact Saturday and Sunday 12-2pm. You can also read Ray on Newsmax.

Negron: I Hope Thurman Munson Can Be Proud

TAMPA – This weekend, I came to the NY Yankees Fantasy Camp.  It’s the one time of the year that I can sit down with Diane Munson, Thurman’s wife, and soul search and talk about days gone by.

To Thurman Munson, I was always his little brother and Diane was like my sister.  Whenever Diane was in New York at the end of that particular homestand, I would always drive Thurman and her to Teterboro Airport. Those rides were the most hilarious of times because Thurman and Diane used to poke fun at each other and we would scream with laughter.

I never saw a Yankee couple more in love. I always wished that I could someday have a marriage like that.  Diane asked me about this new Yankee catcher named Sanchez. I told her that I had already done a couple of charity events with Gary and for me he represented the spirit of Thurman in a very nice way.

I asked Diane if she would like to send a message to Gary Sanchez on  behalf of the Munson family, and she said she would love to.  Here is the message that was transcribed by NY Sports Day from Diane Munson: “Hi Gary! I can’t wait to meet you in February and I heard nothing but wonderful things about you. I look forward to it. I heard you are a gamer, just like Thurman Munson. It’s going to be my pleasure.”

I hope that Gary Sanchez understands the magnitude of what Diane is trying to say.

Weekends belong to Ray Negron on ESPN Deportes 1050 Impact Saturday and Sunday from 12-2pm. You can also read Ray on Newsmax.

Negron: Imagine Love, Baseball & Rock and Roll

I was recently attending a charity event for the American Cancer Society.  I noticed that they were auctioning off different sports and entertainment items. The most interesting was a painting by the terrific pop artist, Riz Robinson.  It was a very deep piece of John Lennon.  Mr. Robinson saw me staring at the painting and asked me what my attachment to it was. I told him that John Lennon was a spiritual mentor to me and that Lennon and Paul McCartney were my all-time favorite song writers.

November 1977, one month after Reggie Jackson had hit the three home runs in game six of the 1977 World Series, Reggie and I went jogging in Central Park.

It was a beautiful brisk day and at this time I could still run really well. Reggie liked running with me because I would make him run harder, I always wanted to beat Mr. October but he was deceptively fast.  Three quarters of the way to the west side of the park, I noticed two very familiar figures. It was John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

John Lennon noticed Reggie before Reggie noticed Lennon. I screamed to Reggie, “Stop Jack!  It’s John Lennon.” I was in shock because I had always been a giant Beatle fan.  Reggie and Lennon shook hands and then Lennon introduced Yoko Ono to Reggie.

Lennon said to Reggie “I don’t know your sport, but I do know that right now you’re bigger than the five Jackson’s put together.” Reggie laughed at that and I guess you could say that John scored big points with that comment. John told Reggie how much he loved New York and Reggie replied about how intense and crazy the city could be. Yoko never really said much and I was just mesmerized watching two entertainment gods of the era enjoying one another. Years later, I asked Reggie if he ever thought about that time that we met John Lennon and reminded him of what Lennon said that day.  Reggie smiled. You have to remember that Reggie had met all of the greats from the last six decades. Stars from film, TV, music and sports. We are talking about greats like Sinatra, Mohamed Ali, Pele, you name it. I believe he even met Elvis but I’m not sure, Today, Reggie understands the magnitude of John Lennon and what Lennon meant to the world and he must think to himself, “that’s pretty neat.” That’s what Reggie’s smile told me.

Years later I spent time with Paul McCartney, right after his wife Linda died of cancer. Paul was just the coolest guy. He was the youngest 60-year-old guy ever. I was working for the Cleveland Indians and a good friend introduced us. Every time that I ran into Paul he was always great. One time I told Paul that I loved writing and was thinking about doing a children’s book.  He told me to put my soul into it and not to be afraid, something that some of the great writers that I have met had also shared with me.  I didn’t know what he meant until I started to write the book. I was scared because I wanted it so badly and I wanted it to be great.

My publisher was Harper Collins and the book imprint was Regan Books and the great publisher Judith Reagan.  Judith had known of my story and my friendship with George Steinbrenner. She thought that this was the real book, however that would be a book for another day.  When going over the children’s book, Judith told me not to tell anyone about the book except for Mr. Steinbrenner who had given me permission to write it.  Since I knew a lot a writers I decided to ask everyone for advice. I wanted to tweak the manuscript to try to make it better and better. At one point Judith said,” Do you understand that I like your idea for the story and I have editors that will help shape it up? If you keep asking all these people for their advice, one of them is going to say that they wrote it.” Boy she was right. After the book came out and started to have success, some guy started saying that he wrote it. When I saw Paul McCartney again I gave him a copy of the book and told him what had happened.   Paul told me that the same thing had happened to him when he wrote one of his first songs. I asked him, “What did you do?” He said,” I sat down and wrote another song and it had to be better than the first.” He told me that I had to do the same thing to shut this guy and all the other jealous souls up. It was the best advice that Paul McCartney could have given me and I love him for it.

I went to Mr. Steinbrenner to tell him what was being said and he was quite annoyed and like Paul, the Boss told me that I had to prove that the first book wasn’t a fluke and I had to come right back with another one. My next two books went to number one on Amazon.

This year, I start my seventh book and if I have one regret it is that Thurman Munson and Billy Martin didn’t get to see me accomplish such an incredible feat. The reason for this is that like Reggie and the Boss, Billy and Thurman always motivated me. My very first published writing was actually a story that I did about Munson entitled “Five days in August.” I wrote it in 1979 and it appeared in a magazine years later.

Let’s just say that I was a kid who always happened to be in the right place at the right time. I will forever be grateful to the kindness and sincerity and of course musical genius of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. I was not disappointed when meeting two of my heroes– thank you.

A special thank you to the 1974 Yankees, Mr. Steinbrenner’s first contending team, also known as “the band on the run” named after the McCartney song because we were playing that 1974 & 1975 season at Shea Stadium while they renovated Yankee Stadium.

Finally a special thanks to the great sports artist John Pennisi for being able to re-create a wonderful moment in my life with his god given talent as an artist.

Hear Ray Negron every Sunday at 11am-1pm on 1050 ESPN or read him on Newsmax.


Negron: The Value of a Good Writer “Priceless”

I recently visited Yankee Stadium for the Pinstripe Bowl (football game) A well known individual came up to me and said I have been reading your material on NY Sports Day and Newsmax.  He commented,  “You must be making a killing.”

I said to him,”I don’t get paid.” He asked, “Then why would you do it? Why would you waste your time?” I got a little annoyed with him but I kept my cool and told him that I do it because I get to tell stories, real stories about the greatest people that have made the Yankee brand what it is.

Because I am not getting paid, the editors cannot tell me what and how to write.  I can accentuate how much I really do love the Yankees, baseball, sports and how great it is be an American and not be afraid to say it.

To me, a writer is someone who is not  afraid to tell a story. The very first book that I ever read was “The Old Man and The Sea.” The author was Ernest Hemingway, perhaps the greatest novelist of all-time.

That was story telling at its best because it was about a Cuban fisherman sitting out in the sea for two- and- a half days. He was wrestling a marlin on his fishing hook and at the same time fighting sharks who were trying to eat his giant catch.  Yes, that simple, yet Mr. Hemingway won every writing award possible for this story and they even made a major motion picture starring the great Spencer Tracey.

I was only nine-years old when I read this book though I couldn’t help to read every page.

Years later I would get to know the great sportswriters Dick Young and Phil Pepe when I became a batboy for the New York Yankees.  They would teach me not to be afraid to tell a story, to write as if I were talking to a person or a group. Remember that writing is an expression.

Throughout the years I would notice that George Steinbrenner would love to sit down and write letters to people Most of the time he would get a pad and just write it out. They were actually beautiful letters of appreciation or dissatisfaction depending on who the letter was for.

I remember, I needed a letter of recommendation to get into a school. He told me to write the letter and he would sign it. Well I wrote the letter, he read it then he tore it up and said, “This letter would be good for a school ran by Al Capone.”

He then sat down, picked up a pen and pad and wrote a great letter which his secretary would then type.  This actually happened several times during my tenure with “The Boss”.

Many times Mr. Steinbrenner would actually send people hand written letters.  The recipients of the letters were always so grateful because no one did that anymore.

Another wonderful writer was the sportscaster and author Dick Schaap. His books literally spoke to you. I remember asking Dick, how he learned to write like he did.  He said, “In this country we have something called the Freedom of Speech.”  As long as we have that,  I can let my soul tell my story.

Dick used to see me babysit some of the players kids.  Kids like Yankees second baseman Sandy Alomar’s boys, Sandy, Jr. and Robbie, outfielder Bobby Bonds son, Barry, centerfielder Bobby Murcer’s son, Todd, and even the Boss’s son Hal, who  later along with his big brother Hank,  would grow up to run the Yankees.

Dick Schaap asked me to watch over his son Jeremy, who today is one of ESPN’s top sports journalists. On these occasions I would take advantage of Dicks’ knowledge and ask as many questions as I could about the art of writing.  Dick was the greatest when it came to sharing his craft.

Dick Schaap

When I wrote my first story,  which was on the days following the death of Thurman Munson, I think it saved my life.  For four days I could not catch my breath, continuous hyper ventilation and I thought I was going to die. I had Incredible anxiety over the death of our friend, our team leader, Thurman.  Dick Schaap told me that if I wrote down my thoughts, it would serve as great therapy.

He was so right because by the time I finished writing my Munson story, Bobby Murcer would drive in all five runs to beat the Orioles in the tribute game to Munson and I could breathe again.

The pad and pen is still the best friend a person could have from the standpoint of telling a story, writing about  your soul or just flat out telling the history of this county that we live in.

The key to writing is don’t be afraid to express yourself.  Many times, I’m still guilty of that myself but I am living proof that it is never too late.

I still have dreams and goals even at my age. I will be honest with you, I dream to someday win a Pulitzer Prize and in America anything is possible because the pen is mightier than the sword.

Ray Negron can be heard every Sunday on 1050 AM ESPN Deportes from 11 am to 1pm and also can be read on Newsmax.