Diana Munson Is So Proud of Gio

The Thurman Munson AHRC New York charity conducted its annual event last night. This event is done in honor of the great Yankee, Thurman Munson, who was lost in a tragic airplane accident in 1979. Donations from this event helps children and families that are dealing with difficult health issues, including autism, etc.

Several great athletes were honored including Harry Carson, a former captain of the New York Football Giants, Mets outfielder Michael Conforto and American League home run champ Luke Voight of the Yankees.

The athlete that I was very happy about receiving this award was Yankee third baseman Gio Urshela.

This guy has never said no when it came to helping people in need. He, along with Gleyber Torres (who won the Munson award last year) have been an absolute pleasure to work with. As the Yankees community consultant, I have to say that Gio has made my job easier because of how he loves children, especially those in the Bronx.

I also have to add that when Gio went home to Columbia after the season, he contracted the Coronavirus. He realized how serious it was, not just for him but for all people. He contacted Alfred Zaccagnino, the co chairman of H2One hand sanitizers and pushed him to ship thousands of bottles of the sanitizer to people in Venezuela and the Bronx. Gleyber who happens to be very close friends with Gio, also got to know Alfred and had thousands of H2One sent to Venezuela.

I love to be able to report to Diana Munson, how many of these Yankees love to give back to the community and how the Yankees organization as a whole continues to do all the right things to make life better for those in need.

It was beautiful to see Diana hug and thank Gleyber Torres last year after he won this award. It really saddened her not to be able to share the love with Gio because of the pandemic but promises him that, when it’s safe, they will definitely get together.

One thing I must add is the tireless work of PR Guru John Cirillo. Thanks to him and all the people at AHRC New York for all the great work which helps so many people and keeps our Captain, Thurman Munson’s name alive, and of course, the wonderful and beautiful Diana Munson. You know what you do… I can only say that we love you.

Al Downing and his showdown with Hank Aaron

Al Downing played with and against some of the greatest baseball players of all time.

While with the Yankees in the 60s he played with Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra and the 1964 most valuable player Elston Howard. In 1969 he played with a chubby catcher who would go on to have a hall of fame type career. His name was Thurman Munson. Downing said that Munson was like no other Yankee that he had played with because even though he was a rookie, you would of thought that he had been there for ten years.

Al would then move on to the National League and play for the Dodgers. Al would go on to all star status after winning 20 games in 1972. In the National League Al played against players the likes of Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays , Willie Stargell and of course Hank Aaron.

In 1974 Aaron was chasing Babe Ruth’s Homerun record. Dodgers manager Walter Alston went up to Downing on a Friday night and told him that he needed him to pitch against the Braves that Monday because as a seasoned pro Al would be able to handle pitching to Aaron during a game of that magnitude rather than one of his younger pitchers.
Al told Alston that it would not be a problem.

It seemed as if the whole world was watching and naturally the Atlanta Fulton County Stadium was packed.
Someone told Al that Hank Aaron had said that he intended on passing Babe Ruth that night with his 715th Homer because he just wanted to get it over with. Al was asked how was he going to go after Aaron and Al said Mano a Mano. I’m going to go after him with my best and knowing Henry, he is going to come after me with his best.

The game started and Downing walked Aaron the first time up. The second time up Downing threw a fastball away for a ball then Al came back with another fastball and Henry Aaron with those incredible wrist of his jumped all over it, sending it to the Braves bullpen in left center field and into the glove of relief pitcher Tom House who when the celebration started would deliver the baseball to the new Homerun king Hank Aaron.

The next day Aaron and Downing got together and talked about the historic night. Al told Aaron that he gave it everything he had. They would tell each other that they were proud of the others accomplishments in the wonderful game of baseball.
This week we lost Henry Louis Hank Aaron and I want to say that the times that I was around this fine gentleman, he showed nothing but class. At the same time I must add that Al Downing has truly been one of the finest gentlemen ever to wear a Yankee uniform or for that matter, any major league uniform.

Thank God for baseball because this great game opened the door for the world to get to know the likes of Babe Ruth Jackie Robinson Roberto Clemente Willie Mays and of course Al Downing and the  incomparable Hank Aaron!

Thurman Would’ve Loved Gio

Today I got to talk with sportscaster and radio disc jockey legend Ricky Ricardo about his interview with Gio Urshela, who has been chosen to receive a humanitarian award during the Thurman Munson award ceremony.

Ricky was given the assignment of doing the virtual thing that all these award ceremonies are doing. It also gave me a chance to talk to him about growing up a true Yankee fan. “Naturally, my favorite player was Thurman Munson,” Ricky said “so getting this assignment is a thrill. To this day I remember sitting at my aunt’s house in New Jersey when the news came in that the Yankee captain had been killed in an airplane crash. To this day I still have not forgotten my emotions and just how much it hurt. My feelings were such that my uncle actually took me to Teterboro airport, which is the airport that Thurman used to fly out of, and tried to explain what happened.” I felt Ricky’s sadness as he tried to take me back to one of the Yankees darkest moments. I felt my eyes tear up and decided to talk about Gio.

Ricky at that moment lit up and said that after talking to Gio, that he truly understood why he was chosen to receive this award. Gio explained the importance of giving back. He also said that he truly enjoys sharing moments with young people so that he can try to steer them in the right direction. Gio has visited schools and hospitals and is currently involved in a program with a company called H2One, which is a hand sanitizer company. Through this company Gio has delivered thousands of bottles to schools and youth organizations in the Bronx and with his teammate, Gleyber Torres, has delivered a large number of H2One sanitizers to Venezuela and Columbia which is where Gio is from.

Gio suffered from Covid after the season, so he knows first hand the true dangers of this virus and he wants to do all he can. It’s no surprise that Gleyber has done this also. Last year Gleyber was a Thurman Munson award recipient , I guess it’s the Yankee way.

Ricky Ricardo said that after you speak to Gio Urshela, you know right away that Thurman Munson would’ve really loved this kid. Just like Munson, Urshela likes to do things in a very quiet and dignified way. Gio knows that he is blessed and and he loves to pass that blessing to thy fellow man. If Gio, like Gleyber, can’t get to an event for kids, than, like Ricky Ricardo, they do the virtual thing too.

Thanks Ricky for always representing our Latin athletes in such a wonderful and dignified way and my sincere congratulations to Gio Urshela for winning such a wonderful award…. The Thurman Munson Award… Ricky Ricardo is right… Thurman Munson would’ve loved you.

2021 – We Must Be Winners

In the immortal words of the great Frank Sinatra… Here’s to the winners lift up your glasses… Here’s to the glory still to be! We as people must stand together to make 2021 a better year. A year to start our growth as a nation all over again and maintain who we are… The greatest country in the world!

We must ask the best of ourselves and give much more. Here’s to the heroes, those who move mountains, here’s to the miracles, they make us see… Here’s to all the brothers, here’s to all the people, here’s to the winners that in 2021 all of us must be!! Or else all the people that we loved and lost in 2020 would have died in vain! We are all winners because at the end of the day we are all good people… I honestly do believe that.

Happy New Year! PS we must try to surround ourselves around good people that are willing to sacrifice of themselves in order to make our world good again. You know who the good are and you know who the bad are. At the end of the day, in Gods eyes we need to do the right thing. Not always easy but it’s a must!

Negron: The Doc Gooden Show

Did I hear that right, “The Doc Gooden show?” Well, my understanding is that Dwight Gooden or Dr. K or Doc or by what ever name you know this former phenom baseball player, he is coming to the YouTube and Optimum network very shortly.

Doc along with entertainment entrepreneur Larry Davis will be doing a weekly show. With everything that the Good Doctor has endured in life I can only imagine all the laughter and tears that this show will display.

The show will be produced out of the NYPVG studios in Bellmore Long Island. Doc recently moved back to the Island so he naturally wanted to be connected to the best production studio out of Manhattan. Doc has brought in the very talented producers Peter Rodriguez and Joe Labascio to head up his team. The show will be directed by the very talented Carmine Elvezio from the upcoming new pilot, “Mind Games” and “Reachout with Ray & Steve.”

I will have the honor along with my sidekick, Steve Vaccaro, of being the executive producers. That means that We try our best to help out my great friend Doc in anyway possible.

The bottom line is that this is going to be a damn good show. From week to week I’m sure “The Doc Gooden Show” will be full of surprises. Stay Tuned.

Negron: Pandemic Doesn’t Stop Yankee Winter Wonderland

Every year, the Yankees have a Christmas winter wonderland at Yankee Stadium. Thousands of kids from all around the city come to the biggest holiday party of the year which has been hosted by Jennifer Steinbrenner, who heads the Yankees foundation.

This year, because of the Pandemic, this was not possible. However, head of community relations, Brian Smith and the Steinbrenner family decided that since the kids could not come to the stadium that they would send the toys to all the public schools and youth clubs all around the city.

At P. S. 55 the principal, Louis Torres, said that even though he knew that the Yankees would do something nice, when the truck pulled up at the school with all the toys that he felt more happier than the kids. So many wonderful toys for kids that usually don’t get this kind of treat. “For 15 years I have guided this school through many ups and downs and I have to say that the Yankees have been there for us in many of these times, Torres said. I need to take the time to thank all the players that have visited our school and encouraged our children to do better in school and in life in general.”

Dan Quintero of the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club said that the Yankees have provided more support than one could ever imagine. “Mentally, physically and spiritually the Yankees have just been there and we could never thank them enough especially during these very sad times. I just want the Steinbrenner family and the Yankee organization as a whole,” Quintero said.

The bottom line is that the tradition of the Yankees has always been to help thy fellow man. This is something that’s been going on since 1973 when George Steinbrenner first purchased his Mona (the Yankees) Lisa. 47 years later, the Steinbrenner family is still doing the right thing.

I’m always proud to be associated with the Steinbrenner/Yankee brand, even in a tiny way but especially during this time of year. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Robkes Northport celebrity haven and incredible food

Today I want to give a special shout out to louie from the great restaurant Robkes of Northport.

I was introduced to the place by sports memorabilia guru Mead Chasky. I couldn’t understand why so many celebrities were going all the way to Northport to eat and when I finally got there and sat down for a meal I finally understood.

The food is of the Italian persuasion even though the master chef and co owner louie is always willing to try to make you what ever you want.

The food was so good that I had to tell my friend and owner Sal Scognamillo of the incredible Italian restaurant Patsys in Manhattan . Sal actually visited with some friends for lunch and said that the food was great.

The Sports stars that go to Robkes are never disappointed and like to make it there new hanging out especially when louie delivers the appetizers. When you get to the main course the game is over. You can tell that everyone is enjoying their meals when the table gets quiet because you just want to concentrate on the taste of the food.

Last week Yankee legend Tino Martinez was there and after his dinner he was disappointed because he said that he wished he could take a doggie bag on the airplane that he was getting on.
Ex Yankee and Met Doc Gooden has become a regular since he has moved back to Long Island. As you can see from the picture Doc has even earned an official Robke shirt. Not everyone gets those. I guess it depends on the number of meals that you have had there. You can imagine that Doc has had a few.
The bottom line is if your in Manhattan then there is only one Patsys. If your out on the Island then the best of the best is Robkes Northport. Thanks Mead Chasky for introducing us to a fabulous place.

Negron: Christina Pipia is Cooking Great Ideas!

Roberto Alomar, the greatest second baseman of all time and a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame says that the most important element to his success was always his nutrition. Robbie says that his only regret was that he didn’t understand the importance of this until the latter part of his career. “God knows what more I could’ve accomplished,” Alomar said.

In the world of the arts, the great actor Chazz Palminteri said that nutrition and what he puts in his body is everything. “It’s about being mentally, physically and spiritually prepared for my work in films and life in general,” he said. It’s something that many take for granted.

One athlete who prefers to stay anonymous said that, had many of the players, that he was associated with, had good nutritional values, they would not have abused performance enhancing drugs from time to time.

Recently, at a charity event, I was introduced to cook and nutritionist to celebrities, Christina Pipia. I would find out that not only was she cooking for stars but she was also cooking for regular folks like you and me at affordable prices. I was curious why she was at this charity event only to find out that she donates her time and food to worthy causes.

I would ask Christina why the food business. If you see Christina you would ask the same question because she looks like she should be Chazz Palminteri’s co star in a major motion picture. Christina told me that she was a dancer since she was two and an athlete all throughout her school years. By the way from what I understand a pretty good one at that.

One thing led to another and after she finished college she went to work in the finance industry. In order to work out the stress of that world she found herself in the gym. The competitor that this young lady is, she found herself working so hard that all of a sudden she was in bodybuilding competition. She took this so serious that her research found her discovering the best foods that help her body and mind. She already had a head start because she was taught a lot about cooking from her aunt.

Soon people could see the transformation of what she was becoming. After a while she started cooking, not only for herself but for others. Next thing you know word got around about this magical chef and people started to almost beg her to cook for them. She has a regular job, however she finds time to do her cooking business because she loves it. I think that she enjoys the appreciation that her clients have for the meals just as much as when she is pumping iron in the gym.

I’m excited to see how this body building dynamo and chef will grow in the post pandemic era because it’s incredible what she is accomplishing now in such difficult circumstances. She is a true inspiration to the human spirit for young people.

BronxNet “Reach Out” Shows the Yankee Way

by Carmine Elvezio

“Reach out with Ray and Steve” zooms to number one.

Executive Director Michael Max Knobbe of BronxNet came to Ray Negron and mentioned certain individuals were questioning if the Yankees were doing their “fair share” during the pandemic. You could see the rage in his eyes. The reason I get upset is because I know how much our community relations department, which is led by senior Vice President community relations Brian Smith, does for our community in the Bronx. George Steinbrenner used to have a classic saying “That if more than two people know what you were doing then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons”. That was one of the very few arguments I’ve had with the boss. I used to tell him we live in a very copycat society and felt if any rich guys of power saw what he was doing, that they would want to do just like him.

My opinion as the community consultant for the Yankees is that, through my individual research, all throughout baseball, the Yankees do more for their community than most teams in the game and yet most people don’t know it. With the exception of those on the receiving end of the great Yankee benevolence. Michael Max Knobbe, who besides being a long time producer, seasoned journalist, and the head of BronxNet, had a suggestion for Negron and his co host Steve Vaccaro. “Reach out with Ray and Steve” was already on Cablevision optimum which is a community-based public access station. Michael Max Knobbe suggested that we bring “Reach out” to the Bronx with a new home on the BronxNet television network.

“Reach out” is a variety show. Ray and Steve wanted a show along the same old Johnny Carson tonight show format with an exception of community. It’s during the community segment of the show that all parties felt that you could really bring out the happenings of the Bronx. Yes, they want to highlight all the good the Yankees are doing, however they also want to be able to show the work that others are trying to do in order to help show that the Bronx can be beautiful.

After watching a couple of episodes, the show was contacted by Grace Fernandez who has a long-standing relationship with the Dominican Republic embassy. Fernandez wanted to see how they can help the Yankees and other organizations to collaboratively offer food and supplies to all families in need and to beautifully help the Bronx with all its community, religious leaders, and people who want to get their hands dirty in the Bronx because they care.

This past weekend, the crew for “Reach out” had fun helping surrounding areas of the Bronx including those stores and places of worship with volunteers. Yankee players Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres set out hundreds of one hand sanitizers for all the players to use during the cleanup job. At BronxNet we want to make sure we connect all the good that’s done by the community from education to health, news, debates, cultural arts. “Reach out” combines superstars, athletes and role models. Connecting the Bronx to the World.

It’s nice to be able to have this format “Reach out,” to show the people everywhere that not just the Yankees but all high ranking officials, throughout the borough of the Bronx and all through the city all have a heart.

Michael Max Knobbe, BronxNet’s Fireman, Yanks Pal!

Whenever there’s a fire in the Bronx I don’t like to run away from it, I like to run into it. The guy that always tells me where the fire is located and helps me with the water hose, is a gentleman named Michael Max Knobbe. For years, because of my affiliation with the New York Yankees, he has advised me on different ways that we can always help our people in the Bronx.

Born and raised in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, Michael Max Knobbe has a background in the arts and production and is an advocate for health and fitness, community awareness and media integrity. He is a graduate of the Bronx HS of Science, holds a BA in Studio Art and World History from Drew University, and a MFA from Lehman College.

Serving as Executive Director of BronxNet Television since 2002, Michael Max Knobbe has pioneered and guided many initiatives at the network, including the production of award winning content that builds community, connects the Bronx to the world, and provides young people with professional skills to take on the challenges of an ever-changing digital landscape.

Mr. Knobbe is a co-founder of the Alliance for Community Media’s New York State Chapter, and has testified before Congress about the importance, impact and necessity for logical programming. His direction had garnered multiple NY EMMY nominations and wins. Michael Max currently lives in the Van Cortlandt Village section of the Bronx and has been shooting and editing short form vignettes called “Voices on the Move” through the pandemic.

Thank you for representing and recording the beauty of the Bronx!