Hank Steinbrenner’s Story Was a True Bronx Tale

At the end of Hank Steinbrenner’s life it was tough to get together, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

We had to be careful to not possibly bring the virus around.

The last time we actually did together, I knew that I and Aris Sakellaridis, who was also very close to Hank, would not be seeing him again.

Aris and I were there with him, with very heavy hearts.

We went to see Hank with the intent of spending 10 minutes.

We ended up staying for four hours.

Hank wanted to have fun and laugh so we decided to watch a Richard Pryor show.

I laughed more at him laughing then I did at Richard Pryor.

I laughed so hard that tears streamed down my face.

I have to admit that half of those tears were due to my own sadnessof my sadness; I guess they served as good camouflage.

In between the “horsing around” as we usually did during our visits, and Aris screaming at Hank to get up so that they could go to the front yard to play catch one more time, as was their routine, I could tell that Hank was having a great time. I could also tell that he was getting very tired so we told him that we were going to leave so he could rest.

Hank at that moment “ordered” us to stay and watch one more movie.

Aris screamed, in his standard sarcastic manner, “I don’t work for you! But I’ll stay of course because I like Clint Eastwood in “‘Pale Rider.'”

The movie was an an all time favorite of Hanks.

We all laughed because that was classic Aris.

Hank knew me very well and asked when I would be running into the fire, referring to the coronavirus situation in New York. He knew how seriously and personally I took my city, as well as the people living there.

Hank always used to tell me I couldn’t save the world but he loved the fact that I thought that I could.

For several years, Hank Steinbfrenner actually became a regular visitor to the Bronx. He got to know the people there. On several occasions he visited schools and actually didn’t make it to Yankee Stadium.

That’s how seriously he felt about the people in the Bronx and I have to add that the kids loved him.

Just about halfway through the film, he fell asleep. I looked at Aris and I said, “Let’s go.”

As we were leaving, Hank woke up and asked us if we were coming tomorrow.

I said yes.

I knew we weren’t, but I didn’t want to disappoint him. He told me not to leave for New York without letting him know, and if l left to tell Max, his assistant.

As we walked out, Aris said that he really would have liked to give Hank the cross that he wore around his neck. I said, “then go back in the room and give it to him.”

Aris said that Hank wouldn’t take it. So I told him to force it on him. Aris walked back into the room and said,”Hank this is for you.”

Hank saw it and said, “No that’s yours.”

Aris told him that he wanted him to accept it, so Hank lowered his head and Aris put it aroound his neck.

Hank always had the greatest smile and with that he warmly said, “Thanks Pal!”

We knew that when we got into my car that we had seen Hank for the last time.

Not a word was spoken as we drove from Hank’s home in Clearwater to St. Petersburg, Florida.

Today I’m in New York trying to help as many people as possible in anyway possible during this pandemic. I have two sons who are police officers.

They are on the front line in the frot line of duty.

I worry about them every day.

There are many who are hungry; we’re helping them, along with doctors and nurses needing support. It’s an every day thing in New York. I would not be who I am today if it wasn’t for this city and all the great people that I have met here.

One of the great things that happened at one point this week was that I got calls from Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela asking if there was anything that they could do to help.

I thought that was a beautiful thing. I told them that when things got back to normal I would love for them to just do what they always do, visit the kids at the schools.

I think of Hank Steinbrenner every day.

I miss him.

He was a beautiful person with a crazy, yet wonderful soul.

I wish you would have known him the way Aris Sakellaridis and I knew him.

To us — he was just Henry.

I produced an animated film a few years ago “Henry & Me.” Hank voiced his father, George. Hank was quite proud of his work in that film. Kidding around he used to say that he didn’t want to show up Richard Gere or Chazz Palminteri, who also provided voices in the film.

Hank Steinbrenner was a different kind of guy. He was special and he will be missed.

Just ask a bunch of kids in New York known as Hank’s Yanks.

That’s a story for another day.

Negron: Oh Danny Boy. Mr. Aiello was a True New York Treasure.

Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling. That’s the opening sentence to the great song, “Oh Danny Boy.” Through the years different celebrities named Danny have inherited that song including the great comedian, actor Danny Kay and of course Danny Thomas who used the song as the theme to the great television show “Make Room for Danny.”

However, yesterday I sat at Riverside Memorial Chapel and celebrated the life of Danny Aiello. I couldn’t get the song out of my head. I had always loved the song and if you knew Danny, then you would understand why the song would fit Danny like a glove.

I had known Danny for probably 25 years. He was truly bigger than life. He was a true movie star. He was very proud of his accomplishments in the industry. He was truly a rags to riches story. I looked up to him because when I saw Danny Aiello, I saw a man that represents the fact that anything was possible in life. Your talking about a man who at the age of 40, would become a very respected actor.

By 50, he would become an actor that was truly in demand. Oh and by the way he would be nominated for an academy award for the Spike Lee classic film Do The Right Thing.

Danny would win many acting awards for his film and stage work. This from a man that didn’t take an acting lesson. He was one of the sweetest people that you would ever meet. When he was doing good, you were doing good because he would share his success and happiness with his family, friends and sometimes even complete strangers.

All people loved this man because Danny wasn’t afraid to give of himself when needed. He wasn’t afraid to visit Black or Latin neighborhoods and tell these kids to dream big and he would let them know that they mattered just as much as anybody. He also would tell them that it was better to live life as a good and respected person. The one thing that he told a very troubled kid that was feeling sorry for himself and acted like a wise guy was, ‘Son, you must earn respect. I’m so happy that I have film footage of Danny talking to these kids and I love sharing them on my Instagram.

Danny was also a very proud man. I loved that about him. He wasn’t afraid to tell you that he felt that he was a very solid and accomplished actor, and he was. What he did in “Moonstruck,” “Do the right Thing,” etc, will live forever, however the film that represents Danny’s most sensitive and passionate work is an animated film that I am the executive producer of called Henry & Me based on my first children’s book called The Boy of Steel. It’s the story of a little boy with cancer. Danny played the Doctor. Danny is so good in it that the great actor Richard Gere refused to take top billing. Richard, Chazz Palminteri and Danny shared equal billing. Danny’s nephew, the great Yankee announcer Michael Kay plays himself in the film. This was important to me because it would be the first time that they would work together. Danny was very proud of his work in Henry & Me because of what it represented to the kids of the world. I was and will always be so proud that he did this for me. Now more than ever I will start showing this film throughout as many schools as possible. If for no other reason than just so we can enjoy Danny’s performance in one of his last films.

The Chapel was full to the raptors with hundreds of people that felt like Danny was their best friend. That’s the effect that Danny had on you. You could never get enough of this true New York legend.

When we were doing the voice overs for Henry & Me, my friend Aris was taking pictures of the event. One of the other producers was telling Aris to put away the camera, however if you know Aris then you know that the former corrections officer doesn’t give a damn what anyone has to say if he thinks they are wrong so he took the pictures anyway. Danny always loved that Aris could be defiant. Afterwards Danny was so happy that Aris held his ground and had the pictures. I think the other producer is now happy that that memory was recorded by Aris.

If you knew Danny Aiello then you have your own memories and personal moments with him because he was so giving of himself. If you didn’t know him, then I feel very bad for you because you missed out on a true New York treasure. I know that Danny and his assistant, Luis Baldonieri, would want to thank Charlie Santoro of the Yes Network for always helping Danny when needed.

I want to thank the New York Yankees because in his first film, Bang the Drum Slowly, he got to play the part of a Yankee. He would root and love the Yankees forever. He loved the fact that the Yanks always welcomed him at Yankee Stadium and treated him like the star that he was.

Negron: Vera Clemente, Baseball and Puerto Rico’s Great Ambassador

One of my big thrills will always be when I had Doc Gooden visit Mrs. Roberto Clemente ( Vera ) at the Clemente Sports City in Puerto Rico.

We had kids come from all around the island to visit with Gooden. Doc would talk to the kids about the beauty of baseball then he would teach the kids different grips on the baseball and talk to them about the mistakes that he had made in life. Mrs. Clemente was an incredible host who told us some wonderful stories about her courageous and wonderful husband, Roberto. This trip occurred right after Doc signed with the Yankees in the winter of 1995. Gooden never forgot how sweet Vera was. She just met the famed Dr. K but she would instantly treat him like a family member. She would show instant concern over Dwight’s health situation. That is how she termed his drug problem at that time because she didn’t want to embarrass the good Doctor.

Her son, Roberto Jr., had been a Yanks radio announcer on the Spanish side so she was very familiar with the legend of George Steinbrenner and not in the least surprised at the fact that the Boss would take a chance on Gooden. I remember after our goodbyes that day that Gooden would turn to me and say, meeting Mrs. Clemente must be how it would feel to meet Mrs. Martin Luther King.

That’s a pretty good analogy Mr. Gooden.

This week we lost Mrs. Clemente. I can only say that baseball and Puerto Rico could not of had a better ambassador.

Rest In Peace, dear lady.

Negron: “Disco” Era Begins at Yankee Stadium

In 1978, the biggest motion picture in the world was “Saturday Night Fever.” It was a film about the Disco era. John Travolta was the star and his dance moves had all males and females fat and skinny believe that they could really dance.
That same year New York Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner would get very upset in his owner suite when it was reported to him that Mickey Klutts, one of his utility players broke his thumb warm-ing up a pitcher in the bullpen.
At that moment The Boss decided that he would have a full time bullpen catcher. I was initially asked if I wanted to give it a shot. I had recently been released by the Pirates, so it’s not like I didn’t have some professional experience. So I thought that it would really be cool if I could do it.
So I went to the bullpen with Bullpen Coach Elston Howard and they had right handed reliever Dick Tidrow throw to me. Tidrow threw a few fast balls, a few change ups and then he threw a slider that missed my glove completely and hit me on the ankle. Next thing I knew I was getting an X-ray in the hospital. My dream of being a bullpen catcher was over.
Now the Yankees “Disco era” would begin. That’s when “Disco” Dom Scala came on board. Dom was a catcher that had been released by the Oakland As. He was a true Brooklyn boy who reminded many of the players on the team of Tony Manero, the main character in Saturday Night Fever. He even talked like him. When the music would go on in the clubhouse, Dom’s steps were just like Travolta’s. Paul Blair the legendary gold glove outfielder actually gave Scala the nick name “Disco.”
On any Saturday morning, when the popular TV show, “Soul Train,” was on you could usually find Disco in the player’s lounge dancing with Mickey Rivers , who was probably the best dancer on the team and our chubby catcher Thurman Munson, who was not a bad dancer in his own right. Disco was the 26th man on our team, who never really got the credit for helping to keep that very rowdy bunch cool and relaxed in that crazy clubhouse. Any time I see that crazy movie “Animal House” starring John Belushi, I think of that wild Yankee team.
Dom Scala would go on to do some great things in baseball including scouting for the Pittsburgh Pi-rates and then he would become one of New York’s all-time great college coaches at Adelphi


Dom has been a very positive influence to so many college students who have gone on to great careers. Naturally many of his players did go on to professional baseball careers. Dom has been one of the most caring and giving people that I have ever known in baseball. As most of us know that is generally not the case in pro sports.

This week Scala is having his annual banquet that helps his baseball program at Adelphi. It is amazing at the guest speakers that come out every year. Former players like Bucky Dent and Willie Randolph and Chris Chambliss. Last year he even had Hall of Fame manager Jim Leyland. When I ask these individu-als why they do it they say, ‘After what he has given this great game how can you say no.’

Another person that didn’t say no is Future Hall of Famer, Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman. Brian has always been an extremely philanthropic soul, who has helped so many charities throughout the years, so this is not surprising at all.

In closing it’s nice to see that “Disco” Dom Scala has never changed. He says that the recent birth of his grandson, Jackson Leo Chess, and the birth of his daughter, Shana, are his proudest moments. The marriage to his best friend Yolanda ranks right there and getting his 1978 World Championship ring for being a member of those fabled Yankee teams is truly intertwined.

The Adelphi banquet will be held at the Chateau Briand in Westbury Long Island this Wednesday,
November 20th.

Congratulations to “Disco Dom Scala.” A great baseball man but more importantly a great person.

Ray Negron Interviews Left-Handed Baseball Great CC Sabathia Read Newsmax: Ray Negron Interviews Left-Handed Baseball Great CC Sabathia | Newsmax.com Urgent: Do you approve of Pres. Trump? Vote Here in Poll

In 1999, I was in Cleveland helping Cleveland Indians General Manager, John Hart, and his special assistant, Tom (T- Bone) Giordano, with Doc Gooden’s drug recovery program. I also worked with team Psychologist, Charlie Maher, who has been considered one of the best ever in sports. Charlie and John asked me to assist with the latin and young players. One of these young players was a 19 year old kid from California named C.C. Sabathia. John Hart told me at the time that if this kid walked the straight and narrow in baseball that his abilities would get him to the hall of fame. At the time, I remember introducing C.C. to Doc Gooden and I will never forget how excited C.C. was to meet Doc. I will also never forget how honest Doc was with C.C. about his life. I will always be grateful to George Steinbrenner, John Hart and Tom Giordano for agreeing and understanding that I needed to go to Cleveland to babysit Doc. (The Boss literally checked on Doc and me several times during the week.) This also introduced me to the world of sports psychology and how important it is. The highlight will always be the big lefthander from California that is still the same person now that he was 20 years ago, if that’s even possible.

Please read the Q&A with:

C. C. Sabathia and you can watch the video on my Facebook page, Ray Negron or Instagram @raynegronyanks

Ray: So C.C., everything that has been written, I don’t have to ask you anymore, because it’s been out there. Everybody knows the legend of C.C. Sabathia. You were a Cleveland Indian initially, I saw you as a teenage kid, how do you feel about the fact that it’s been so long ago?

C.C.: Yeah, it’s been 19 years since I came up. It’s been a blessing. Being able to get the chance to play for this organization late in my career, I couldn’t ask for a better organization to come to. The last 11 years has been unbelievable. To be able to end with the Yankees was a dream of mine. I thank the Steinbrenner family for getting that done and letting me end my career here. I am excited for this last year and to go out with a bang.

Ray: I take great pride with the fact that in your free agency year I used to say to you “Please think about the Yankees.” Do you remember that?

C.C.: Yeah, of course!

Ray: “Please think about the Yankees, it would be a great time.” How do you feel about my premonition?

C.C.: It worked out. Even in 2008 when I was getting traded we talked. I wanted to go through that free agency process and just make sure I checked all those boxes off and was able to still come here. It’s been a great deal.

Ray: I’ve been here 46 years. I’ve seen it all whether it was Munson, Pinella, Reggie; you have taken the whole thing of being off the field, children, helping, from the heart, where did that come from?

C.C.: I think it was something that I was born with. When I was a kid I got to meet Dave Stewart when I was 9-years old and the impact that had on my life made me want to give back to kids. If I can have that affect on one kid in the Bronx or in California, it’s all worth it. For me meeting Dave Stewart at 9-years old gave me the incentive to start a Foundation and do all of these things across the country. If one kid can see that and start his own Foundation and do those things, it’s all worth it.

Ray: What you did on the field helped you become that much greater off the field. Kids that will become grown men will never forget the legend of C.C. Sabathia, because you started helping a lot of these kids when they were 8, 10, 12, 15, and now they are 25 and 30. How do you feel about how you helped some of these kids grow up?

C.C.: Yeah it’s amazing. Especially when I get a chance to see some of those scholarships we give out and see those kids graduate college and come back and help my community in Vallejo, and different things between helping the community in the Bronx and the Boys and Girls Club, it’s a great thing. It’s a way to leave my legacy and leave my name.

Ray: Everywhere I go throughout New York, first question that comes out of these kids’ mouths, “do you know CC Sabathia?” And I am proud to be able to say that I know you. And I just want to be able to say to all people that we have to thank you for your kindness, your generosity, and always treating me a regular kid from these streets with class and dignity, you never big-leagued me and I am eternally grateful for that.

C.C.: I have to say thank you too. Meeting you at 19 years old made a big impact on me in my life in those Indian years I never forget, so I have to say thank you.

Ray: It’s been a great honor and thank you for the great compliment.

C.C.: Thanks.

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.

Negron: Keeping the Boss’ Empire Alive

When the great George M. Steinbrenner passed away in July of 2010, I felt like my world was crushed. The man that had literally given me a life in the incredible sport of baseball was gone. Through him, I learned that baseball was more than a game. He also taught me that if I believed in myself, there wasn’t anything that I couldn’t do.

One day I was standing in George’s office at the old Yankee Stadium with about 20 of his college buddies. You’re talking about guys that attended Brown University, Yale , Dartmouth, Ohio State …you name it. As these high level individuals were talking about their academic achievements, I felt terribly out of place. At that moment the Boss noticed me just staring down, so all of a sudden, in his thunderous voice, he screamed out ‘Negrón put your head up.’ He then said ‘I know what you’re thinking. Don’t you realize that you went to the greatest University of all?’ At that moment I said to myself ‘what is this madman talking about?’ At that instance he said, ‘You went to the University of Steinbrenner at Yankee Stadium.’ I can honestly say that I wasn’t embarrassed anymore. Even though everyone was laughing, I know that in his heart the Boss meant it. He always tried to make me feel good about myself especially with the fact that when he first got me off the streets, I was dealing with a very bad case of low self esteem.

Throughout the years he let me get involved with different film projects, at times even introducing me to some Hollywood producers that would give me film parts. He even allowed me to get started in writing my children’s books.

The thing that I loved the most was the “bird’s eye” view I got of how he ran the great Yankee Empire. How he loved the magnitude of owning sports’ greatest team. He also talked about how he wanted for the Yankees to be beloved long after he was gone.

In my mind George Steinbrenner would never die because to me he was like a God. Well unfortunately there is only one God and the Boss did die. Next to my parents dying, that, and Thurman Munson dying, was the worst day of my life.

I walked in a daze for a week. I couldn’t imagine the world without the Boss. Remember that I had been around this “Giant” for 37 years. Selfishly I wondered what would happen to me now that he was gone. I actually got into a mental funk. I wondered how the Yankees would keep going. Would everything fall apart?

The thing that I wasn’t aware of was, that in his own way, the Boss was preparing for when he would no longer be there any longer.

In the 1980s he hired an intern from Kentucky that would learn every part of the baseball operations and he would work with all of the Boss’s great baseball people, including Gene Michael. To date, he has become the longest tenured General Manager. That man is Brian Cashman. On a personal note, one of the reasons that I like this man so much is when he first came to work for the Yankees, he wasn’t afraid to live in the south Bronx.

In 1963, there was a Stadium vendor selling hot chocolate and god knows what else. He was a kid that came from East New York in Brooklyn. At that time (and to this day) it was the toughest neighborhood in New York. He worked his way through College, got his law degree, went to work for some big time law firms including Shea Gould. He started doing some legal work for the Yankees in 1976 and has been our Chief Operating Officer for over 20 years. He has gone on to do some incredible things for the Yankee brand. His name is Lonn Trost.

Then there is a gentleman who was working for former Mayor Rudy Giuliani from 1997-2000 as the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Planning and Administration . This man was also involved with the big labor movement in Major League Baseball. I was told that, in high school, he was a hot shot basketball player. The thing that the Boss told me that he liked about this guy was that he reminded him of himself. The Boss always liked to think of himself as one very tough hombre. And yes ladies and gentlemen he was and so is this man. His name is Randy Levine, the President of the New York Yankees.

For that matter, all three of them can be very tough guys. These guys will not be pushed around. I can honestly say that that is something that the Boss wanted in his top soldiers. The other thing that was very important to the Boss was that these men always do the right thing by the common man. I think they have more than done that. No organization in sports or any business for that matter has done more to help so many people like the Yankees.

In 2005 George Steinbrenner gave me the go ahead to do my first children’s book. It was called ‘The Boy of Steel.’ When I completed that book and was going over the art work, there was one picture missing, one of the Boss.

When my artist did the picture of the Boss, she looked at me and asked me what’s wrong? I said there is something missing. She asked me what it was. I said that the picture would not be complete without The Boss’s three top soldiers from his Empire. I don’t know if it was a premonition or what but that picture won us some book awards and the book went on to become the international children’s book of the year, beating out, I’m proud to say, Gloria Estefan’s great children’s book that year.

With the success of that book, out came the haters. One unnamed person actually said that he wrote the book because he gave me some advice on it, as had others. This angered the Boss so much that he told me to do another book just to show everyone that I wasn’t a fluke. Well I ended up doing three more, one better than the next.

Getting back to the Boss’s three hombres, I can honestly say that the Boss would be so proud at how these men have run the Boss’s Mona Lisa. How they have helped guide the Steinbrenner family well into the 21st century with the advancement of the YES TV Network and all the great entertainment projects including soccer matches and musical concerts.

Like many people, I miss the Boss dearly but I’m blessed to be able to be around the people that refuse to forget the greatness of George M. Steinbrenner. It’s wonderful that they truly help to keep his dream alive.

Negron: Thurman’s Car

As we approach the last days of August I can’t help but think that 40 years would’ve gone by since I said my final good bye to my pal, Thurman Munson.

By now I’m sure that you have read and heard all the different, and crazy yet wonderful things about someone who was a hero to me and many others.

I first met Thurman in June of 1973 at the original Yankee Stadium. We would actually become friends during the 1974 season when I started to go on the road with the Yankees. While on the road after games, a lot of the guys would hang out in their rooms playing cards or just talking and I would go from room to room taking food orders and going out to get the food.

Many times I would go to Thurman’s room and he would just want to talk. He would always tell me about himself and his family or just talk about the team. The thing that made me really like him was that he would ask me about me. His questions about my background made me feel like I mattered. Different things in his background were somewhat like mine. Our fathers were pretty much alike in how they dealt with us, but that’s a story for another day.

During the 1974 and ‘75 seasons the Yankees were known as the “Band on the Run.” That was the very popular Paul McCartney song at the time. The reason for that was because we were playing at Shea Stadium while they were renovating Yankee Stadium.

During the 1974 season Thurman and Bobby Murcer and Lou Piniella would have me hit in their groups during batting practice because they had seen me working out during workouts and knew that I would get drafted in the upcoming baseball draft.

To say that this was the greatest thing for my confidence would be an understatement. That summer I was by far the best hitter in the youth summer baseball circuits in New York and shocked everyone when I ended up getting drafted in the 2nd round by the Pittsburgh Pirates. That would not have happened without the incredible confidence boost that I got from Thurman, Murcer and Piniella and of course Walt “No Neck” Williams, (an affectionate nickname for a player who had a physique where it looked like he did not have a neck) a utility outfielder, that was always talking hitting with Thurman.

People used to tell me to watch it with Thurman because he could get very grumpy but when he was your friend, nothing was further from the truth. I have to say that the reason that I became friendly with Thurman was because I actually idolized Gene Michael, the Yankee shortstop at that time.

Gene “Stick” (as he was known) Michael was very close to Thurman and really knew how to get through to him. Thurman really trusted “Stick.” They went to the same college in Ohio, (Kent State) however at different times. I remember one time Thurman getting angry with a reporter and like clockwork Gene was able to calm Thurman down. I would have to say that the two players that influenced Thurman the most during that era were Gene and Bobby Murcer. Bobby you could say was our matinee idol and unofficial leader.

After the 1974 season ended the Yankees released Gene Michael and traded Bobby Murcer for Bobby Bonds. Thurman and Bonds became very close friends. Bonds was actually a great influence on Munson and would always tell Thurman why he had to be a leader in his own way.

When you’re a batboy and truly, truly love baseball and the Yankees, then you get to observe things that no one else did. One time Willie Randolph asked me how did I remember everything that I did and I would tell him that since I wasn’t a player I knew that when I got into the clubhouse, I would sit down strap in and get ready to watch the “Greatest Show on Earth.”

“The Show” really became a hit when the Boss George Steinbrenner signed Reggie Jackson before the 1977 season. By the time we got back to the refurbished Yankee Stadium, Thurman became our official Captain. He led by true example, not by having a letter C on his shirt.

Let me add that no one was allowed to call him Captain and if you did he would give you the worst facial expression. You knew you screwed up. By 1978, Thurman would be flying home on a regular basis on his airplane.

I don’t remember how it happened but I became Thurman’s driver to Teterboro Airport. I loved doing it because it would give me time alone with Thurman. Time alone where we could talk about everything and anything. To this day I can honestly say that those talks have stayed right here. Diana, Thurman’s wife is probably the only person that I have ever talked to about that. From a selfish perspective, the other reason I loved driving Thurman to the airport was because after dropping him off I would have a brand new Cadillac to use.

In the 70s having a Cadillac was like having a Mercedes today. I thought I was so cool because I would show up at my games driving Thurman Munson’s “Cadi.” One time Thurman checked his odometer and saw all the extra miles on it and asked me where did I drive, to Hawaii? I told him I had games in Long Island so he asked me didn’t Reggie give you a car to use? I said yes but do you want to show up at your game in a Volkswagen Rabbit or a Thurman Munson Cadillac? He started to laugh and said you got a point there.

When I didn’t use the Cadillac, then Reggie would have me park it in the garage in his 5th Avenue apartment building. Reggie always paid for the parking but he told me not to tell Thurman that he paid. I loved the fact that Thurman and Reggie had become very good friends. Reggie even flew with Thurman on his plane. One time Reggie gave me a check to give Thurman for the gas on the plane. When I handed it to Thurman he started to laugh and said I’m gonna keep the check just for the autograph. Sometimes, Thurman would fly back to NY with his wife Diana and this is when I would get to know Diana and the wonderful and fun relationship that they had.

Sometime in July of 1979, I was supposed to drive Thurman to Teterboro Airport after the game. Because of a rain delay or extra innings the game ran late. After packing his bags I was helping him take his things to his car. At that moment Thurman turned to me and said, ‘I’m gonna drive myself to the airport.’ I asked why and he said that he didn’t want me to be driving back from New Jersey by myself. It was already midnight. He said he would really feel guilty if something happened. He said ‘and besides, you can use Reggie’s Rabbit’ and he started to laugh. So I walked him up the stairs and we crossed the street to the players’ parking lot. We said some little “chit chat” and he got into his brown Cadillac and then he started to drive out. All of a sudden he stopped the car. I thought he had changed his mind and was gonna have me take him to Teterboro. Instead he said ‘Ok silly rabbit, Trix are for kids” (mimicking the breakfast cereal’s slogan) See you when I get back. That was Thurman being funny in reference to me and Reggie’s Rabbit.

The rest is history. As you know Thurman perished in a fatal plane accident. On August 3rd, the day after Munson died, George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin would come up to me and tell me that I had to go to Teterboro to pick up Thurman’s car. I immediately said no. Billy said you have to and the Boss said this is not an option. The Boss made it a point that I was the only one that they could trust with Thurman’s car. At that moment I understood.

I got another Batboy named Hector Pagan to drive me there. When I got into the car I started it and the radio was on and the station playing was WKTU Radio, which was a popular disco station. This told me that Thurman was tired driving to the airport. The reason I say this was because Thurman was into music like Neil Diamond etc. the only time he would listen to disco would be in the clubhouse so that he would dance with Mickey Rivers, especially on Saturday mornings when the popular TV show, “Soul Train” would be on.

To say that the drive back to the Stadium was a nightmare is an understatement. I cried and I screamed and I punched the seat and the dashboard of the car until I got back to the ball park. Even right now I still cry. Thurman Munson was a friend, he was my friend, he was a good person, he was a caring person. If you would have known him, 40 years later you also would still be crying.

Negron: Gio Urshela, A Hero, On and Off the Field

Gio Urshela is a hero in more ways than one.

On his off day, Gio heard of ALS patient Dan Colon and the battle that he has been staging against this horrible disease. He was told about the fact that a play (“BATBOY”) was being performed in Dan’s honor in order to raise money to help him and his family. Gio was even asked to perform on stage with Bernie Williams.

Through his laughter, Gio handled his lines like a pro. To see Gio and Dan Colon was very heart warming.

For one day Gio Urshela made Dan forget about his suffering. To see Gio hug a man that he didn’t even know showed me the incredible heart of this young man. I have gotten to know Gio this season and knew that he was the right guy to take on this very difficult assignment. The Yankees’ third baseman was compassionate and caring and did a wonderful job.

When Gio got to Baltimore he thought about Dan and his horrible disease. He thought about the fact that he has his family (the Yankees) to rely on and he was hoping that Dan would have the same support. Well Dan does have a great family that supports him and after meeting and spending a great evening with Gio, he has someone that he can root for.

Last night, Gio hit two home runs and in his heart Danny feels like that was for him.
Gio may have given Dan Colon extra life and every one that loves Dan also loves Gio for it.

Special thanks go out to Bucky Dent, Bernie Williams, David Cone, and Mickey Rivers for the love that they showed Dan Colon on this beautiful night.

Negron: Bottom of the 9th No. 1 for Third Week

Next to being at Yankee Stadium, my favorite thing in the world is being on a movie set. I have been blessed to of done approximately a dozen films. Four of them were baseball oriented films. The last one being Bottom of the 9th.

This film stars Joe Manganiello and Sofia Vergara.

This film has shocked the industry because even though it wasn’t such a large budget film, the quality of the progress in making the film would tell you otherwise.

The script is really well done by Bronx native Robert Bruzio and the story behind it told me that it was very personal. When Anthony Rinaldo an early in the process film consultant came to me about getting involved in the film because of my life of redemption in baseball, I told him that I had to think about it. It wasn’t until Anthony showed up at Yankee Stadium with Rocky and Creed producer Bill Chartoff that I agreed to do it. I must add that it did also help that Bruzio actually had me spend an afternoon with the original director of the film, Academy Award winner John Avildson.

The three of us drove all around the Bronx and the whole time John asked me about my life with the great George Steinbrenner and how he was so intrigued with such a wonderful and unusual relationship. He had read my book and said that it had the potential of being a great film. A film that he would want to do. I have to admit that I was extremely flattered. What was shocking to me was that John actually filmed our whole time together with a secret camera that Bruzio knew was on but didn’t tell me. Avildson actually made a little documentary out of it.

I was extremely saddened that John would die four months later. I don’t know of the couse. He was 81.
The terrific director Raymond Defelitta took over the reigns as director and did a wonderful job in Bottom of the 9th.

Bill Chartoff and his partner Lynn Hendee asked me to become the associate producer and Bruzio was insistent that with my experience as a baseball man and as an actor that I perform as coach Negrón in the film.

As the associate producer, I had the opportunity to hire a lot of ex players to play the roles of Manganiello’s teammates and opponents. I even got to slip in some friends that looked like players but had no idea how to put on a glove. It was a wonderful time on the set and I was able to bring on Robert Molloy, Mr. Stienbrenner’s grand son and a film producer of several movies,to help me with all baseball scenarios. He was also an associate producer.

Gene Michael and Tom “T-bone” Giordano two of the greatest scouts in the history of the game were also supposed to of been in the film but they to also died during the shooting. If you noticed during the scouting scene a couple of seats were left empty in honor of these two great men. Raymond Defelitta actually played the part of the scout.
Michael Rispoli was terrific as the Empire manager.

You get to see a lot of Billy Martin in Rispoli and former Mets coach Rob Dromerhauser schooled the heck out of Rispoli. Former Yanks bullpen coach and Adelphi University head coach Dom Scala was very funny on the set because I had to continuously explain that this is Hollywood not real life. However he kept scolding the actors for not making certain plays.

I think Dom’s insistence in perfection may of made the actors overachieve as players.

One of my big thrills was to work with one of Hollywood’s greatest cinematographers Barry Markowitz. There isn’t an angle that this man wouldn’t shoot from. I also love the fact that he is now a lifelong friend. The same can be said about make up head Scott Hersh who has been there for me during the productions of my play BATBOY.

I want to thank all the actors/players who made my job very easy during production. Pat Stoffer Bryan Dromerhauser Bryan & Jimi Giles Jon-Erik Negron Cesar Presbott. Just to many to mention them all. I must add that Larry Travolta Davis did a fine job as the opposing manager.

All in all it was a great film to work on. The people on the set were fantastic and I must add that one of the highlights of the film was when Brian Cashman and Bernie Williams made their cameo appearance on the film. It truly was a wow moment.

Kudos to former big leaguer Brian Wilson who was so convincing in playing himself. Exactly what that is you will have to find out for yourself.

After writing this article I now understand why this film has been number one for three weeks. It really is a fun film to watch.

Special thanks to the Manganiello brothers for believing in this project. Also to Robert Bruzio because your dream helped put a lot of people to work including me.

Negron: Gary Understands the Magnitude of Munson Legacy

When I got to spring training this year I had heard the little whispers about Gary Sanchez. About how he wasn’t the same player last season as he was the previous season. I didn’t believe it for a second because if you know this kid, then you know his work ethic. For one thing he worked very hard this off season to be very ready for a new season.

Since the day Gary got to the big leagues I have been talking to him about Thurman Munson. I have told him how hard he worked and every once in a while I would give him a message from Thurman’s wife Diana. During the Yanks fantasy camp I told Diana that I was gonna relate some of the positive things to Gary that I learned from Thurman and some things that me and Diana shared.

After one of the Yanks’ practice sessions, I got together with Gary and organization catching coach Lino Díaz and we just talked about Munson. We talked about how positive of a person he was. We talked about how actions spoke louder than words with Thurman. We talked about how after forty years, the magnitude of the man could be so strong. We talked about all Thurman wanted to do was put the team on his shoulders and carry them to the finish line.

I remember after speaking to Gary last week and telling him how proud I was of him. I gave him a kiss and told him that was from Thurman. When I walked away tears actually filled my eyes because the last thing that Gary said to me was I truly do understand the magnitude of what this man meant to this organization and this city.

Today Gary Sanchez will be the starting catcher for the American League All Stars in Cleveland, Ohio, the state where Thurman Munson was born and raised. I can guarantee you that the Munson family will be watching in nearby Canton Ohio rooting on Gary Sanchez.

Life unfortunately goes on with or without us, however if you knew Thurman Munson than you would understand why his spirit is always here. If you knew Gary Sanchez than you would understand why I’m rooting for this kid to carry on the Yankees great catching legacy.