Negron: Batboy To Yankee Superman
The Gene Monahan Story


Gene Monahan was the trainer of the NY Yankees for as long as I can remember. Before that, he was a Yankee batboy. To the players, he was known as Doc or Geno, to the Boss he was Monahan and to me he was Superman.

He was the person who had to keep the players together, healthy, and strong, or else he would have to answer to the Boss. Gene was always a fun loving guy but always serious when it came to taking care of the Bronx Bombers. The players trusted Gene with everything. It was no coincidence that the valuables box (where the players left their wallets, etc. before games) was in the trainer’s room.

Our core players could tell Gene everything and anything and know that it stayed right there. The two most trusted guys in the clubhouse were Gene and Pete Sheehy. (Pete is a story for another day!) What we have to remember is that in those days, there was only one trainer -no assistant, no fitness coaches, no interns, no one- Just Geno and he made it work.

Let’s not forget that those were Steinbrenner’s Yankees and not the Milwaukee Brewers so that the demand for these players to be ready everyday was intense. Gene however, made it work one way or another.

Can you just imagine that Mr. Monahan had to wear lots of “hats” including team psychologist? I used to love to watch Gene sitting in the training room having serious conversations with players such as Catfish Hunter about his issues with diabetes or Thurman Munson and his knees when they started to go on him, or Thurman just talking about a new airplane.

I am not even mentioning some of our players with more intense problems and the trust that they put on gene. In all my years with the Yankees, I only saw Gene mad once and it happened to be at me!

What happened was that in the middle of the 70’s disco craze Lou Piniella was taking dance lessons. One day Bobby Murcer walked into the trainer’s room and said,” I went by Lou’s house but he left early, where has he been all week?” Munson said, “Haven’t you heard, Lou is taking disco dance lessons.” Murcer said, “No way!”

Then Catfish said,” Yes, he sure is.” Monahan was giving Catfish a shoulder rub when all of a sudden Piniella walked in and said, “Good afternoon gentleman.” Munson started to chuckle and so did Catfish. Monahan, as always kept his poker face. As Piniella was putting his wallet in the valuables box, he started to notice that the boys were laughing at him so he asked. “What’s so funny?”

Murcer said, “Well the boys tell me that you are taking dance lessons. Do you want to be the next John Travolta?” Lou smiled and said, “I am actually getting pretty good. You guys should think about taking some dance lessons too. Especially our fat catcher.” Pointing at Munson.

Everyone started to laugh and all of a sudden I decided to put on the radio and Monahan yelled out, “No Ray, Don’t!” Gene knew that everything Lou did, he did with passion but it was too late. The song that was on the radio was “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb. The players started to egg Piniella on so I started to turn the lights on and off really fast to give the room a disco effect.



Gene started to scream at me, “Stop it, stop it” but I couldn’t help myself. Munson and the rest of the players were having too good of a time. All of a sudden, what Monahan was hoping wouldn’t happen, happened! In the middle of one of Lou’s pirouettes, he started to go crazy. He started to punch out the ceiling tiles like a “mad man”. Everyone was screaming and laughing except for Mr. Monahan.

Gene made me clean the trainer’s room of all the ceiling tiles that were all over the floor. I also got suspended from the trainer’s room for the rest of the season.

In 1977, Gene asked Mr. Steinbrenner if we could bring in an assistant trainer. The Boss thought that’s it was a great idea, especially given the fact that this team was becoming another “Murder’s Row” with the likes of Munson and his newest Yankee, Reggie Jackson.

Gene selected the AAA trainer Herman Schneider, who today is the head trainer of the Chicago White Sox. He has been with Chicago for the past 25 years and by the way, like Gene Monahan, is a truly wonderful guy.

In all of my years with the Boss, I knew who he liked and who he didn’t like and I knew who he may have said something positive or negative about. I can honestly say that the Boss respected Gene Monahan as much as any employee that he has ever had and I had never heard him utter a single negative word about him.

The Boss knew how lucky he was to have Monahan. Today, Steve Donahue is the Yankees head trainer, again another incredible person. Now Gene Monahan comes to spring training to help get the team ready for a long tough season. However, like Reggie, Goose Gossage, and Ron Guidry Gene is here like the true Yankee legend that he has become.

The man that started as a batboy is really a Yankee Superman!

Weekends with Ray 12-2pm ESPN 1050 Deportes Impact. Also read Ray on Newsmax

Negron: The Day Billy Joel And Richie Cannata First Had A Yankee State Of Mind

One of the pleasantries of spring training is to see the Yankee legends like Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson and Ron Guidry.  If the Yankees of the 1970’s were a rock band than they would definitely be the Beatles. The Fab Four had George Harrison, known as the quiet Beatle. The George Harrison of the Yankees would have to be Ron Guidry.

Very quiet, but very smart and when you get Guidry started, no one knows more about the game and he loves to reminisce about that era and the great times that we had. I will never forget the day a couple of young musicians were walking around the Yankees clubhouse like a couple of little kids.

I went into my locker and got a couple of baseballs and pens, and handed it to them. It turned out those two young musicians were great sax player Richie Cannata and his friend, a Long Island kid, who would become world-wide legend Billy Joel.

It was nice to see how grateful they were for my gesture and how the first autograph they got was from Ron Guidry. This happened just before the two big hits “I Love You Just The Way You Are” and “New York State of Mind” were released.

I remember asking Cannata at the time, how did he get into the Yankees locker room and he told me, Billy Joel and him were guests of Yankees bat boy Joe D’Ambrosio.  I asked D’Ambrosio who these guys were and he made a bold prediction and said, “Billy Joel would someday be as big as Elvis.”

I remember chuckling to myself because in my mind, nobody could be as big as Elvis. But 40-years later, D”Ambrosio wasn’t too far off and let me add, if there’s a better sax player in this world like Richie Cannata, especially after you hear him in that solo “New York State of Mind,” he just doesn’t exist.

Ron Guidry was always a big music fan and a favorite of all the musical celebrities that would visit the clubhouse. I would never really see Billy Joel again after that initial meeting, however I would develop a lifelong relationship with Richie Cannata and send messages back and forth to Guidry on the behalf of Cannata.

The reason Cannata struck such a deep bond? Because like me, he likes to help people. Richie and other members of the then Billy Joel band have helped me do charity events for kids in the Bronx and in poor communities in Long Island. When Hurricane Sandy hit the Island the first call I got was from Cannata to conduct another benefit concert to raise money helping feed the families after the devastation.

The beauty of the New York Yankees is that people like Ron Guidry know what’s important in life. They are aware that to be kind to someone is always better than to act like a crab.

Guidry’s kind gesture, to Richie Cannata had an impact. Through the years there is nothing that Cannata wouldn’t do to help the less fortunate in conjunction with the Yankees, or for that matter anybody that is trying to do good.

In closing, I am forever grateful for the friendship to Ron Guidry who was a big brother to me and all the other bat boys in that locker room, and of course, to Richie Cannata. During his last concert, he dedicated “New York State of Mind” to my late mother Jenny.

Today Richie, drummer Liberty Devitto, Russell Jabors and the rest of THE LORDS of 52st  will be performing at an arena near you. You can find them at THE

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


Negron: Ellie, a Pioneer in Art, a Champion in Life

Ellen Jagenburg, the mother of the former world champion swimmer and my very dear dear friend Greg Jagenburg died this week of natural causes.

Like me, Greg and his siblings had been caring for their mom until her passing. She was a wonderful person who lived life to it’s fullest. To say that she did a great job as a parent would be an understatement.

I know what I had to go through with the recent passing of my parents and how hurt I still am and will be, so I can only say that I will do my best to be supportive to a true friend that has always been there for me and all the different kids that we have worked with together in the different organizations we are involved with.

Please read the attached obituary on Mrs Jagenburg so that you can learn more about this incredible lady.

Ellen (Ellie) Jagenburg born in New York City, April 30, 1931 passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family March 20, 2017.

Long time resident of Locust Valley she is predeceased by her beloved husband of 65 years, Rene T Jagenburg. Loving mother of Ilia McCormick (Richard), Gregory Jagenburg (Patricia), Vanessa Jagenburg. Cherished grandmother of five.

Ellen graduated at the age of sixteen from The Professional Children’s School in New York City. Ellen had her own radio show and preformed weekly with a full orchestra on NBC while a student at PCS.

She appeared in High Button Shoes directed by Mr. George Abbott. She was a cast member of the Pajama Game and Kiss Me Kate on Broadway.

In 1951 she married Rene and they moved to Long Island to raise their family.

Involved in many community activities, Ellen continued her love of musical theatre as a founding member of The Glen Players a local amateur theatre group. The Glen Players supported local high school students involved with the Arts by providing an annual college scholarship.

She lit up a room with her wonderful smile and great sense of humor. Her grace, elegance and intelligence, were an example to all who knew her and will be dearly missed.

Negron: Bobby Murcer Always Missed

TAMPA –  Today, I was browsing through my Facebook page reading all of the great questions, quotes and anecdotes from some really knowledgeable friends and fans. To my surprise, there was a nice greeting from Kay Murcer the extremely beautiful wife of the late Bobby Murcer.

She was responding to the picture I posted of Reggie Jackson eating strawberry shortcake. It was very cute and very sweet. I showed it to “Mr. October” and he had one of the very few and true loving smiles because he is all business during spring training.

I sat back and thought about how much I still miss Bobby Murcer. I thought about the fact that to this day I have never heard a person utter a negative word about my post-Mickey Mantle hero. I think about the fact that his son Todd was the first Yankee kid that I would baby sit and to this day we are so extremely close.

Sometimes on my Facebook page, I read negative feedback from fans about ticket prices, lack of autographs, etc.  Yet, Bobby Murcer was always a player who used to scream out, “Lets give the fans a good show today. After all, they are paying our salary.”

He was a big brother to Thurman Munson and there is no way Munson would have become the great Yankee he was and great leader without the tutelage of the the grand Mr. Murcer. If I didn’t witness this myself, I wouldn’t say it, but as God as my witness, I am lucky and proud to have lived it from year-to-year.

Having spent part of 44 years with the Bronx Bombers, I am so thankful that along with Murcer, my big brothers Thurman and Reggie, Sweet Lou Piniella, the great Graig Nettles, that gentleman Roy White, the then “Teenager” Willie Randolph, and the very quiet Chris Chambliss, along with the beautiful Catfish Hunter, “Chicken” Stanley,  my hero Gene Michael, Ed Figueroa, and of course “Louisiana Lightning”  Ron Guidry. But, I cannot complete this without mentioning my two roommates of that era Mickey Rivers and the teen heart-throb Bucky Dent.

Then again, this would not be possible without our field general the incomparable Billy Martin and, of course our fearless leader who put this comradery together and loved it so very much, George M. Steinbrenner.

I’ve been blessed. God knows I’ve been blessed and I try to live and share with all the fans that truly do love the New York Yankees. Thank you Kay. I love you.

Weekends belong to Ray ESPN 1050 Radio 12-2pm Saturday and Sunday. Ray can also be read on Newsmax.

Negron: I Believe There Is Nothing Stronger Than Our Love

TAMPA – Several years ago, I was very lucky to have one of my children’s books turned into an animated film. It is called “Henry And Me.” It’s the story of the incredible spirits of Yankees past, like Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Munson, Murcer, and how they helped a little boy battle cancer.

It’s the story of how the human element can defeat fear. I always hear about how selfish many celebrities can be, but I have been lucky because so many of my celebrity friends always seem to be there for me whenever I am out in the street helping people.

People like Richard Gere, Danny Aiello, Frankie Valli, Chazz Palminteri, Joey Gian and Lucy Arnez, I mean the list goes on and not to mention all the athletes like Reggie, Yogi, Hank Steinbrenner, Willie Randolph. I need a phone book to let you know all the people that were there for this incredible project.

I was sitting with the Grammy Award winning singer Paul Anka in Clearwater, Florida.  I told him about this wonderful project and the fact that it involved a sick child based on a true story. Paul could not have been more giving.

I couldn’t wait to get back to the studio in New York to tell our head producer that the musical genius, who Paul Anka is, not only wanted to help but actually wrote music for the film.

One day, I was driving home from Yankee Stadium and I put on CBS-FM, the oldies station, and ironically a song came on by Paul Anka called “I Believe There Is Nothing Stronger Than Our Love.” It was such a happy, pretty, loving song that I really could envision it being the closing credit jingle.

I called Mr. Anka and asked if I could use the song for the closing credits and he told me, “Sure kid…use it. It will fit perfect.” Mr. Anka was not going to charge me a fee, etc. because of the charity element to it.  Again, I was excited to be able to deliver this message to our lead producer.

Paul Anka went as far as to write us some great mood music. And for whatever the reason, which to this day I don’t know, none of it was used in the film. We didn’t even use the closing credit song at the end. As beautiful as the film is, it just lacked in what Paul Anka could have given us.

When I asked my producer why wouldn’t you use such great stuff, he said it was a matter of opinion. Just because you like it doesn’t mean I have to like it. I said, “Do you understand the magnitude of the Paul Anka name and what it brings?” But for whatever reason this guy would not budge and it broke my heart because Paul Anka is one of the last and great showmen of today.

He wrote some of the greatest songs ever, including “My Way” for Frank Sinatra. He wrote the greatest television jingle, the theme for the “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson.

And yet to my producer, Paul Anka was not good enough for “Henry And Me”….I didn’t get it!  This  put me in a very embarrassing situation because someday I would have to confront Anka and explain what happened.

Last week, my friend Bobby Rossi, who brings all the talent to Ruth Eckard Hall, called me. Rossi told me that Anka was going to be performing and did I want to see him? The one thing in my life that I truly did learn from George Steinbrenner was always confront situations so it doesn’t come back to bite you in the ass.

I told Rossi that I would like to attend and see Mr. Anka after the show. As always, Anka put on a spectacular show. He works an audience better than any man does. He is 74 years old but you would think he is 25 and everyone went home happy because that is what he does for an audience.

After the show, I was escorted with my friend Aris to the green room. Aris thought it would be best for us to wait until he did his meet and greet with everyone and we could speak to him afterwards. After he finished with everyone he came over, we shook hands and he asked me how I  have been after such a long time?

I handed Anka a set of my children’s books because he has a 12 year-old son. He could not have been nicer or classier and I, in turn, was happy because I did confront him. But at the end, I was very sad because of what could have been.

As you noticed, I never mentioned the name of the producer, because positive or negative he does not deserve to be acknowledged. But as Al Jolson once said, “That’s Entertainment.”

“Henry And Me,” is and always will be one of the best animated films ever. It’s so feel good that I just don’t understand why it did not have the success that it should have had. But, then again, when you read the story, maybe you then will know the reason why. I just want to live this life without all the haters!

If you have never seen this film and you have kids do yourself a favor and get a copy. Remember that all the profits go to charity. As Sammy Davis Jr.  once said, “Live life through love, peace and togetherness.”

Weekends belong to Ray ESPN 1050 Radio 12-2pm Saturday and Sunday. Ray can also be read on Newsmax.

Negron: Beatrice O’Neill A Wonderful Lady
And A True Yankee

Tampa: This morning I met my good friend Charlie Santoro at the Village Inn Diner outside of Steinbrenner Field. Charlie is a member of the YES Network. He’s probably one of the most loved figures in that organization. He’s an extremely lovable character who I am proud to call my friend.

Charlie always makes everyone laugh and he always makes you feel good about yourself. Saturday morning he wasn’t as lovable as he usually is. I asked him what’s wrong and he told me with the kind of year I just gone through, (I lost my Mom and Dad and I also lost my very dear friend Adele Smithers). He was afraid to tell me what he had to tell me.

I told him, what happened Charlie, let me know? And he informed me that Beatrice O’Neill passed away. For many of you out there who don’t know who she was, Beatrice was the lady who greeted everyone in the suites section of Yankee Stadium.

She had worked for the Yankees for many-many years and was a true favorite to George Steinbrenner. She was a lady of true class and dignity, someone the Yankees could not afford to lose because she made all the guests truly feel welcome.

Every time that me or Charlie walked up to the fourth floor the first thing we would do was hug and kiss Beatrice. We always used to tell her that she was a fashion statement because she dressed so elegantly. I always used to ask Beatrice for a date and she used to say,” I am old enough to be your mother-stop it.”

Mr. Steinbrenner’s suite supervisor, Joe Scafidi used to drive Beatrice and I home sometimes and we would flirt with her all the way home and at the age of 80, she loved it.

And, oh, how she loved “The Boss.” To Beatrice “The Bosss” was Cary Grant. He always made her feel like a million bucks. Whenever you met Beatrice you would never forget her because she was the Mom everyone wished they had, a true, sweet and darling person.

I will miss her forever as will everyone who knew her. Beatrice had a son,  daughter, and ten grandchildren. The one thing I can truly tell you about Beatrice, and that is, she was very proud to be a Yankee. True and true!

Weekends belong to Ray ESPN 1050 Radio 12-2pm Saturday and Sunday. Ray can also be read on Newsmax.  

Negron: Joe DiMaggio, Oh How I Wish I Knew You

Tampa:  Elvis Presley once said that a man is one thing and an image is another. I didn’t really know what Elvis meant by saying that until I was invited  to visit the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital through a personal call from their CEO Chantal Leconte.

Tuesday morning  in Fort Lauderdale Florida, after I parked my car, as I approached the hospital I saw this magnificent building with a statue in the front of Joe DiMaggio in his Yankee uniform with his arm around a little boy.  It was the most sensitive looking work of art that I have ever seen.  When I walked inside the hospital Chantal and her entourage were standing there waiting for me.

Their camera man started flashing pictures of me as if I was some sort of celebrity. I told Chantal,  she is treating me like I was a Yankees star and she said, “Today to these kids you are.” We proceeded to take a little tour of this magnificent building and she educated me on what it meant to the community and the poor sick children that are here everyday.

I asked her why it was important to have me there? She said, “I knew that after listening to you speak at another venue weeks before, I knew that you understood what these kids were going through and that you can truly brighten their day.”

Chantal mentioned to me that it was nice to have someone in the hospital who had actually known Joe DiMaggio. I said to her that I had met DiMaggio on many occasions throughout the years but that I did not really know him.

Chantal showed me many rare pictures dating back to 1936 right up until and just before he died, and how he truly loved children. I was truly blown away at the magnitude of the pictures. Evidently throughout the years this was one of Joe DiMaggio’s best and kept secrets.

This was something that Mr. DiMaggio took very-very serious. With each passing picture that I saw, I started to realize certain things that DiMaggio said to different people over the years and one of them being, you must help children before they get polluted by adults.

I now find it so profound that things make more sense. She even had a picture of DiMaggio and an African American boy in deep conversation before the boy had surgery.  In my mind all I could hear was Simon and Garfunkel “Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio, Our Nation Turns It’s lonely Eyes To You.”

Now every time that I hear different people saying what a crab Joe DiMaggio was I will turn to them and say, “What have you ever done for the children of this world?” Because today Joe is a hero to me, not for the 56-game hitting streak but for the hundreds of children that he reached out too and tried to help.

In 1984, I was lucky enough to work in a movie called “The Cotton Club” that was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starred Richard Gere. I played a waiter in the club. Richard Gere introduced me to Mr Coppola as George Steinbrenner’s bat boy and from that day on for the next two months, Mr. Coppola treated me not like an extra but like one of the stars.

He was truly a gentleman to me everyday. Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, and Nicholas Cage all used to stare at me in amazement with the preferential treatment Mr. Coppola gave me over all the other extras on the set.

When filming ended at the “Rap Party” Mr. Coppola came over to me, shook my hand and thanked me for my efforts. I asked out of curiosity, I needed to know as to why he had been so nice to me? His response was, “Even though you may think you are just a bat boy, you are still a Yankee and when I was a little boy I was suffering from a very rare paralysis and a significant Yankee came to the hospital to visit me. He didn’t know me from Adam.”

Coppola would say, “I was just one of the sick kids at the hospital and this Yankees visit meant the world to me and for a little while I forgot how sick I really was.”

I asked Mr. Coppola who was that Yankee? He said, “Joe DiMaggio.” Thirty-three years later, It’s incredible that I am standing in a hospital named after a man that most of the world did not realize had this kind of a beautiful heart. Even though I had seen little samples of what this Yankee great was capable of off the field I never put it together until now.

Throughout the years I used to see my incredible boss George Steinbrenner do wonderful things and he would always tell me never to tell anyone and this is pretty much the same way that DiMaggio wanted to be able to do the good that he had done.

Now I understand. As the Boss once told me, if people find out the good I do, that’s their business but that is not the reason for the good that I do. Now I have to believe after my findings that this was part of the reason why the Boss and DiMaggio had such great respect for each other.

Chantal asked me, “Are you now ready to see the kids?” I responded, “Now more than ever.” I went from room-to-room and presented all the kids with replica championship rings and all of the children loved them.  She even had me visit the ward that had the children getting ready for surgery. At first I was scared because I did not know how the kids would react but when I handed them their rings it was if they had forgot that they were getting ready to go to surgery.

One little boy held his fist up with the ring showing and he had a smile in his face as he was being wheeled into surgery. I gave him a thumbs up and he gave me a wink.

This was truly one of the most beautiful moments of my life. When the visit was over, Chantal thanked me but it was me that was grateful for the awakening of what the great Joe DiMaggio was all about and how courageous our children of the world really are

The classic line in my animated film “Henry And Me” comes from the mouth of Lou Gehrig, “We’re Yankees. This is what we do.”

Weekends belong to Ray ESPN 1050 Radio 12-2pm Saturday and Sunday. Ray can also be read on Newsmax.  

Negron: Reggie Still “Mr. October” Ask T-Bone

Tampa: A documentary has been in the works for some time now on the life of Super Scout Tom Giordano and the world of Major League Baseball scouts. Everyone from Atlanta Braves President John Hart to all-time hits leader Pete Rose are featured in this documentary.

The greatest second baseman of all-time, Roberto Alomar gives a testimonial with passion  about Giordano who is known by his peers as “T-Bone.” The documentary traces the home run race between “T-Bone” and Hank Aaron in the 1953 minor league baseball season right up to the time where he signs the beloved Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.

When “T-Bone” was told that Reggie Jackson was going to take part in this film he could not have been happier. Through the years they have always had a very special bond. Many baseball insiders remember that Giordano was a big reason why the Orioles made the trade for Jackson in 1976 and after the season Reggie presented Giordano with his Number 9 uniform shirt as a token of thank you.

When Reggie was asked if he would take part in this documentary at first, he questioned it but when he found out it was about “T-Bone” he jumped at the opportunity to let the world know what a wonderful human being this great baseball veteran has been.

Reggie looks at “T-Bone” today as if he was a father to him. The fact that “T-Bone” at the age of 92 has been in baseball over 70 years, Reggie mentioned, that must be some type of Guinness Book of World Records.

Another longtime baseball official who did not want to be identified mentioned there should be a special wing in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown for people like Tom Giordano, almost like they have at the Ted Williams Hall of Fame in St. Petersburgh Florida where ‘T-Bone” has a prominent display.

As “Mr. October” finished his heartfelt interview you could hear him say the days of the Tom Giordano’s and all the great scouts are a thing of the past and we will not see another “T-Bone” again.

Let’s enjoy this one while we have him.

Weekends With Ray on ESPN Deportes 1050 AM from 12-2pm. You can also read Ray on Newsmax.

Negron: Robbie Cano And Spirits Of Past
Support Gary Sanchez

Tampa – In the summer of 2005, I took a  young rookie by the name of Robinson Cano to the Hackensack University Medical Center.  I was there visiting an old friend David Jurist. David and his good friend Don Imus support the “Tomorrow  Children’s Fund.”

I remember taking Cano room-to-room visiting all the kids. For one day those children forgot that they were suffering from such a horrific disease. Cano was not afraid to engage mentally, physically and spiritually with all the children. At one point while walking around the building we lost Cano. When we backtracked we found him in a room with a little Spanish boy.

They were speaking their native language and the little boy cried because he got to meet the newest Yankee hero.  Cano hugged the boy and shared tears of joy rather than tears of sadness. Cano always understood that the spirits of Ruth and Gehrig always surrounded the Yankees and he was told early on about the magic of Yankees greats whenever they visited children of hospitals around the world.

Today, I ran into Robbie Cano at the World Baseball Classic practice session in Bradenton Florida where the Dominican National team is headquartered. I was thrilled to see that Cano was happy to see me.

As always, Cano’s first question was”how is David Jurist and the people at Hackensack?”  Jurist and the hospital honored Cano during his Yankee tenure with the “Robinson Cano Pediatric Rehabilitation Center.” So, naturally, even though he visits many hospitals Hackensack is extremely close to his heart.

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His second question was, “How is Gary Sanchez doing?” He mentioned of the great respect he has for this youngsters ability He talked about the fact that New York is very lucky to have  a young player that will hopefully lead this team for a long time.

Cano asked, “How this youngster and his community involvement was developing?” He added, did I teach Sanchez yet about the incredible Yankees spirits that surround many of these players in the Bronx?

Robinson Cano was the hero in my first book “The Boy of Steel” and he was already giving me ideas for a new book with a new hero. Hopefully that hero will be Gary Sanchez in the very near future.

Robinson asked if I would put together a trip to Hackensack Medical Center so that he could introduce Gary Sanchez to the children there when the Seattle Mariners come into town.

I was thrilled to hear this come out of his mouth and I was more excited that Robinson had not forgotten the fact that kids everywhere need the support of their heroes.

If you ever get a chance to watch the movie “The Pride of the Yankees” look for the part where Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig visit the little boy in the hospital.  This is where the tradition started and through the magic and spirits of Yankees past, the tradition will always be handed to the Yankees of today.

You can listen to the Robinson Cano interview  with Ray on ESPN 1050 Saturday and Sunday from 12-2pm. Ray can also be read on Newsmax. 

Negron: “You’ll Be In My Heart ” Brett Gardner’s Story

Tampa –  Today I walk around the new renovated  George Steinbrenner Field. I see the left field balcony and there is a big and bright number 15 displayed for all the fans and it naturally takes me back to my early spring training days with Thurman Munson.

It used to be a glorious time back in the 1970’s. I shared wonderful moments with Bobby Murcer. I had incredible times with Catfish Hunter. A player that many of the fans won’t remember but yet he meant a lot to me was an outfielder named Walt “No Neck” Williams.

A guy who probably played first base better than anybody in the history of the game was a part of our world championship 1978 team by the name Jim Spencer.  Another guy that meant the world to me and he happened to win eight Gold Gloves as a center fielder was Paul Blair.

Another guy, Aurelio Rodriguez helped the Yankees win at the start of the 1980’s was also an incredible defensive wizard at third base. And of course our fearless leader on the field was our incredible manager Billy Martin, and then of course “The Boss” of bosses George Steinbrenner  was the man who always demanded for this team to win for our great city yet always had the greatest heart of anyone associated with the New York Yankees.

I think of all these men often. I miss them so very much and when I see the families at Old Timers Day I can’t help but cry.

Seven years ago a lady by the name of Sally Cook, who was associated with Columbia Presbyterian Hospital asked me if I could bring a player to read one of my children’s books to the kids there. I decided that I would bring a young rookie by the name of Brett Gardner.

It’s always easier to ask a rookie to assist you with a hospital visit than a veteran. And with the kids at the hospital when any one puts on that Yankees uniform as far as they are concerned those players are Superman.

I recall picking up Gardner at Yankee Stadium and driving him to the hospital. On our way there I remember him saying, ” I don’t know if I can do this.” He was actually quite nervous. I explained to him about the history of Yankees always visiting children at hospitals dating all the way back to Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

I told him about a lot of the Yankees who are no longer with us and how they always gave back to the less privileged. I even told him how Thurman Munson used to feel after spending time with a lot of these kids. Thurman never had to say anything because you always saw it in his eyes. In Mr. Steinbrenner you  would always see it in his smile.

When we arrived at the hospital Ms. Cook was nervously waiting for us at curb side. I introduced the two of them and she led us inside to where many of the kids were waiting.

Gardner went right up to the podium and was introduced by the President of the hospital and like a seasoned pro he read the children’s book “Goodbye to Yankee Stadium.”  Ironically that book was about all the spirits that played at Yankee Stadium.

The kids loved how Gardner read the book to them. It was if he was acting out all the different parts. When he finished reading the book he received a big ovation from everyone there. After signing many autographs we started to leave.  A little girl introduced herself to Brett. Her name was Alissa

She handed Gardner a little bracelet. She asked him if he would wear it at the game that night. She asked it he would do her a favor and Gardner responded, “What can I do for you?” She told him she had been waiting for a heart for over six months and she felt if Gardner hit her a home run that they would find a heart for her.

Gardner looked at her with a startled look in his face. She asked again if he would please try and he said that he would. He gave her a hug and then we jumped back in the car.

On our way back to Yankee Stadium, Gardner had a very sad look on his face. I asked him what was wrong and he said, “I hardly hit home runs and I am afraid of letting Alissa down.”  I told him, like in my children’s  book, just let the spirits handle it.

When he walked into the Yankees clubhouse he noticed his name was not in the starting lineup and he really got disappointed because now he was really not going to have a chance to hit a home run.

As faith would have it, Johnny Damon got into an argument with the umpire and got thrown out of the game in the sixth inning. Manager Joe Girardi looked over to Gardner and told him to grab a bat.

Gardner hit a line drive down the left field line The left fielder for the Minnesota Twins was the extremely fast Denard Span. For some reason he misplayed the ball and it went past him and all the way back to the wall and the even faster Brett Gardner raced around the bases the way Mickey Rivers would in the 70’s.

They tried to throw him out at the plate but Gardner got his hand at the plate just before the tag could be made. A miracle happened, an inside the park home run. As he ran into the dugout all he could think of was he fulfilled his promise to a very sick little girl who had been looking for a heart.

By the time the game ended and the players got into the clubhouse a call had came in that a heart had been found for little Alissa. It was as if the baseball Gods were looking over Brett and Alissa’s shoulder. This was something that was just meant to be.

It’s been almost ten years since this incredible miracle happened and I can joyfully say that Alissa is a beautiful young lady today thanks to the wonderful doctors, to the great soul of Brett Gardner and all the wonderful spirits that will always be known as New York Yankees.

Just look over your shoulder always! This story is dedicated to my Mom and Pop, Adele Smithers “The Mother of Recovery” and all the wonderful people that we lost in the last year. Thank you Phil Collins for writing such a wonderful song….”You’ll be in my heart.”

Weekends with Ray on ESPN1050 Impact 12-2pm and he can be read on Newsmax.