Negron’s Impact: Tim Tebow Visits George M Steinbrenner Field


TAMPA – One of my favorite people in all of baseball happens to be New York Mets Public Relations director Jay Horwitz. The reason being is that Jay has always been a true friend of all baseball players. Someone that really cares about the person. Someone that when the player is out of the game, Jay stays in touch with them to make sure they are okay and always tries to extend a hand.

I have seen this time and time again with players like Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Roberto Alomar and countless others– players that I have dealt with on personal levels.

This week Tim Tebow is visiting the George M Steinbrenner Field with the Mets, St Lucie A  Ball team playing against the Tampa Yankees. I called Jay to ask about the protocol for the day in regards to an interview. He told me to see their Minor league PR director that was traveling with the team. When I got there, the gentleman told me that there would not be any one-on-one interviews so unfortunately I was not able to speak with him.

I enjoyed the electricity that Tebow was creating with his visit to Steinbrenner Field. The people in the stands were literally having a great time just with the anticipation. This really reminded me of a George Steinbrenner type situation. I couldn’t help but to think that if the Boss was alive this would have been “right up his ally.” The only difference being that with the Boss’s great knack for public relations we may have had to rent out the Raymond James Stadium across the street.

I was happy to have seen a couple of the young Met players that I personally know and they told me what a great teammate Tebow is and that his work ethic is “through the roof.” They say that he is an inspiration to so many of his teammates.

One player said that the fact that Tebow came from another sport and has been able to show this type of ability in what is probably a more complex sport has driven him to be better. Being a Latino, I was curious how the Hispanics felt on the team. The Latino players are totally aware of Tebow’s celebrity “status” and realize that he is a man of good will. Sitting in the stands the first night, there were many disappointed fans because Tebow didn’t play however, many said they were coming back the next night to see him play.

The next day I happened to be at the Hines Minor League Complex watching my son Ricky, who is an infielder for the GCL Dunedin Blue Jays, playing against the Yankees gulf coast league team. After that game, I went back to Steinbrenner Field and took care of a couple of errands. When my friend Aris and I were walking out of the park we ran right into the guest of honor, Tim Tebow.

Our eyes met, I extended my hand. I told him who I was and told him that I admired his journey. I told him that I admire the fact that he understands that he is here on earth as a messenger of a higher power. I could tell that he appreciated these words. With all of his celebrity, his journey can sometimes be very, very lonely. Many of the fans don’t understand this because they get caught up with what they think is more important to them, the fanfare. The bottom line is, I wish him well and hope that he can be all that and more. I feel that many people in need will benefit from it.

I know for a fact, the Boss would have gone out of his way to meet Tebow.  He would have liked what he saw and would have sent Tebow one of his famous hand written letters to show his appreciation and good luck. (Many people aren’t aware that the Boss did this with Doc Gooden when he was a Met.) Cudos to Vance Smith and the Yankees minor league staff for running a good show for the fans. Not an easy task when you go from hosting five hundred people to five thousand people over night.

Negron’s Impact: Murcer, Daulton, Baylor…Cancer Doesn’t Care But We Do

Today we lost three time all star catcher from the Philadelphia Phillies, Darren Daulton from brain cancer. He had been dealing with the decease for about five years. Even though I did not personally know Dutch as he was affectionately known in Philadelphia, his death hit home because it’s the same disease that took the life of our beloved Bobby Murcer.

Ironically, today also marked the day that we came back from Thurman Munson’s funeral and Bobby thru emotional and physical exhaustion some how found the strength to drive in all five runs to help beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-4. To this day that game is known as the Thurman Munson game.

I will never forget that when Bobby hit the three run homer, when he got to the dugout and all the players mobbed him, when his eyes met Reggie’s, Bobby said, ‘Can you believe I hit a Reggie shot.’ That was very nice of Bobby. Very humbling. I know Reggie appreciated it.

I will never forget how Lou Piniella waited for things to settle down after the home-run so that he could go over to Bobby and give him a hug and tell Bobby that he loved him and Bobby told him that he loved him to. I will never forget how red Lou’s eyes were from crying.

Today, I called Todd Murcer, Bobby’s son. I asked him if he remembered what today was and he said yes I do. I have always been very close to Todd because to know him is to love him. It’s no coincidence that his parents are Bobby and Kaye Murcer. Two of the greatest people you could ever be fortunate enough to know. Todds sister Tori is wonderful also and pretty damn cute. Just like mom.

Today, I got to interview Jackson Murcer. No he is not named after Reggie. Jackson has the Murcer eyes and that Oklahoma twang to his voice and as all Murcer’s are, very good looking. He is 13 years old and knows the game of baseball. He knows that his Grandfather was a very special Yankee but more importantly he knows that he was a very special man. I told Jackson that when his dad was his age and I was the Yankee batboy we were running buddies.
Mickey Mantle was my hero growing up and when the Mick retired naturally Bobby became my hero. When I became a Yankee batboy and got to know these guys they became big brothers. Bobby, Thurman, Reggie, Bucky, Willie. They were my big brothers and I loved them all.

Someone once said that you should never know your heroes because they might disappoint you. Well these guys never did.

I use to talk to Bobby a lot especially when he got sick. Two days before Bobby died I missed a call from him. It went to my answering machine. I was so disappointed that I wasn’t home to receive it because he was in the hospital and to reach him was impossible. The message was almost as if he was saying goodbye. He said that he knew that Todd and me talk a lot. He said don’t ever change that. He thanked me for a song that my friend,Joey Gian wrote and sang for him on a cassette. He said that the message to from the song was great. He said see you pal and that was it. Two day later Todd called me and told me that Bobby was gone.

I asked Jackson Murcer if he ever watches old games of his Grandfather and he told me yes he does. He also told me that he catches himself rooting for Bobby as if the game is happening now.

I may be poor in wealth but am a billionaire in the love that I received from Bobby,Thurman,the Boss ,Billy Catfish and continue to receive from their wonderful families and the Yankee family.

As Chico Escuella (played by Garret Morris) from Saturday Night live Fame once said. Baseball has been very, very good to me.

As I was putting this story to bed I received news that former all star Don Baylor had just died of cancer. Don was 67 years old and among the teams he played for one of them included the Yankees. Don was a a terrific hitter who usually was the designated hitter where ever he played. He was a leader and he was a great guy. He will be missed.

Weekends Belong To Ray on 1050 ESPN Desportes. Read Ray On Newsmax.

Negron’s Impact: Ricky Signs With The Blue Jays

Ricky Negron yesterday signed with the Toronto Blue Jays.

As I reported before, he had been drafted in the 34th round of the 2017 MLB. Draft by the Atlanta Braves. It was truly a wonderful moment for Ricky and his family and friends.

Ricky signed a contract with the Braves, however he never heard from Atlanta again. Ultimately, he ended up getting his release and went to a tryout with the Blue Jays and as faith would have it, he made the team.

Ricky holds no animosity towards the Braves.

I’m sure they had their reasons and I must respect that. When Ricky sent his thanks to the Blue Jays organization Their response was…The best decision we make,the players make for us. That came from Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro. Extremely classy. The Blue Jays gave Ricky a two week tryout and he had to earn the job. That was very important to Ricky. He did have an offer from another organization but he would not except a flat out favor, however he is very grateful to them for their concern.

Ricky graduated from the University of Tampa with a degree in criminal justice and hopes to follow his big brother Jon-Erik in law enforcement. Jon-Erik is a police officer in New York and also one of the youngest Union delegates New York ever had. His brother Joe was Golden Gloves and New York State Light Heavyweight Champion last year. A broken hand kept Joe from competing this year, however he is back in the gym and will be back in the ring later on this year. Ricky’s sister Toni is a renowned make up artist.

Like all kids that love baseball, Ricky just wanted the chance to play professional baseball and be a small part of the greatest game in the world. When I asked Ricky if he had any last thoughts, his response was, “I just want to thank the people that wouldn’t let me give up my dream.” Even Braves scout T-Bone Giordano wouldn’t hear of it. He was great. They all were and they know who they are.

Today Ricky Negron played his first professional baseball game for the Gulf Coast League Dunedin Blue Jays. He went one for three with a walk and two runs scored.

The irony of the day was that the game was played in Pirate City Bradenton, Florida. Forty two years earlier I played my first game at this park for the Bradenton Pirates. I guess with the power of prayer, things do happen for a reason.

Negron’s Impact: Thurman Munson…What if?

This past week marked the 38th anniversary of the death of our beloved Yankee captain -even though he hated to be called that – and for me, someone whom I considered a big brother.

Thurman Lee Munson was, as we would say in the Bronx and Brooklyn, a very bad dude.

In those days, saying someone was bad was the highest form of flattery for someone from the streets. Thurman was your quintessential don’t judge a book by its cover type of guy because you will only get your ass kicked.

In other words, he was a man’s man. For me, being around Thurman as much – as I was – made me a stronger person today. Thurman along with Reggie, Sweet Lou, Bucky, Mick the Quick, Chicken, Gator, Goose, Catfish, Monahan, Stick, Willie, Chambliss, and of course, Disco Dom. We can’t leave out the Boss and Billy.

These were my big brothers in the great decade of the ’70s.

I looked out for them and they sure as hell looked out for me.

I must emphasize that our leader by far was Thurman. It’s something that just happened because of who he was. He feared no one and how people respected him was crazy.

I was lucky because I use to drive him to Teterboro airport in New Jersey so that he could get to his private plane to hurry home to his family. Those drives for me were the greatest because he use to talk to me about the team music his family his favorite guys on the team. Why he thought I was crazy and of course he loved talking about the Boss and how he loved driving him crazy but how much he loved him. As much as I loved driving Thurman to the airport, I loved the fact that while the team would be on the road that week, I had a brand new Cadillac to use. When Thurman would get back from the road trip the first thing he would do is check the odometer to see how many miles I put on the car. Sometimes he would come back from the trip with his wife Diane and I would love to listen to them get all over each other. They were so very funny. They were truly the Yankees Barbie and Ken.

I remember driving back from Boston to New Jersey with Thurman and Batboy Hector Pagan. Hector was driving and Thurman was on the passenger seat feeding hector French Fries from McDonald’s. For what ever the reason I asked Thurman why he didn’t name his son (Michael) Thurman. He said he didn’t want to do that to him. We all started to laugh out loud. Then Thurman said but I sure as hell didn’t name him Hector either. (More laughter.)

I was lucky because I literally lived in that Yankee clubhouse and feel so blessed to of known him the way I got to.
I was recently watching an interview about Reggie Jackson with Bob Costas, who asked Reggie if he felt bad that him and Munson weren’t really friends. I could tell that the question really bothered Reggie. All of a sudden he told Costas that there was a person that works with the Yankees to this day that had me and Thurman get together over dinner and talk things out and after that they were the best of friends. Reggie said that person was Ray Negron.

When I heard Reggie talk about about that story it was one of the proudest moments of my life. People don’t have any idea how close Thurman and Reggie had become . Most people don’t know that Thurman gave Reggie the name Mr October.

Lou Piniella and Bobby Murcer were Thurman’s best friends on the team. God they loved each other so much. However I must add that I was so very proud of just how close Thurman and Reggie got to be. Only Diane can truly verify this.

This past week, I spoke with Piniella, Reggie and beautiful Diane …. I asked them what if Thurman had lived? Sweet Lou said that Thurman would of ended up managing the Yankees and been a very fine manager and he would of been his hitting coach. Reggie said that Thurman would of been the Yankees manager, Lou would of been his hitting coach and he would of been the advisor between Thurman and the Boss (in other words referee)/ Diane through her laughter said that Thurman would of managed the Yankees and of been fired more times than Billy because of the father-son relationship that the Boss and Thurman had.

It’s incredible how 38 years later we are still talking about this incredible person.

People ask me all the time,was he all that?

Yes he was and much much more.

We miss you!!!