Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Greg Golson spent a busy Monday afternoon in Washington Heights. The three were part of Yankee consultant Ray Negron’s caravan of doers of good deeds. Negron, a long-time assistant to Yankees principal 0wner George Steinbrenner, is well-known in the New York City metropolitan area for encouraging players to venture into the urban community and visit with the children who are great fans of the Yankees.
Negron and players for the Yankees make regular visits to schools, parks, hospitals and even a barber shop. Negron wants no credit for stimulating these frequent worthwhile endeavors. He explained, “This is a war to help those who need help the most. Those who put New York on their chests, made these players into supermen.”
On Monday, the trio was at El Nuevo Caridad, a fine eatery on 191st Street and St. Nicholas Avenue. They were there not to eat a meal, but rather to serve meals to children of that community. The three carried plates of chicken and rice to the youngsters seated at tables. They were quite gracious and stopped to sign autographs and pose for photos.
Granderson, whose reputation for decency while a member of the Detroit Tigers preceded him to New York, answered questions while holding a baby in one arm and signing a child’s baseball with the other hand. He explained his presence at the restaurant, “Many of us are from these kinds of communities. We are no different than anyone else. Whenever we get a chance to do these visits, we go.” He is pleased that the Yankees encourage these positive activities for its players, “The organization of the New York Yankees does a great job in knowing where it is located. They know who their biggest fans are, not just the ones with the deepest pockets. They’re [his teammates] are a great bunch of guys who like to give back to the community. One of the great things we can do is show the kids we’re just like them.” Granderson, currently on the disabled list, is preparing to return to action. He said, “I’m feeling better. I hope there will be no setbacks. I intend to be ready to play soon.”
Rodriguez, who was in the same restaurant serving lunch platters to neighborhood children with general manager Brian Cashman and Cody Ransom in August, 2009,again returned to the neighborhood where he was born to mingle with the children of the community. Rodriguez was welcomed with sterling words of praise by the restaurant’s owner, Miguel Montas, and other representatives of the Dominican community in New York City. Although Rodriguez must have been pleased with the good words, his words of response were directed to the lives of the children, “First, I want to speak of the children. They are most important. If each child would read just one hour a day, it would make such a great difference in their SAT scores. It is of the greatest importance for each of them to be able to go to college.” Rodriguez focuses on the topic of the importance of education each time he publicly speaks of or to children. Rodriguez returned to the community where he was born several times last season for charitable events to benefit the residents of the area. This visit is the start of many that he plans to make this season.
Rodriguez was not weakened by his busy afternoon. He had an excellent game that evening against the Red Sox. A-Rod blasted his 588th home run that night, putting him in second place in the career home run derby, directly behind Dominican Sammy Sosa. Rodriguez spoke of his place in the all-time home run race, “Sammy Sosa is an example to all Dominicans. Each person I pass is an idol. To be a Dominican representing all Latin-Americans is very important to me.”
Several of those entrusted by the Yankees ownership of directing community activities take their responsibilities very seriously. Manny Garcia and Vanessa Rodriguez, respectively, director and coordinator of Latino Affairs make it a point to involve themselves in these beneficial activities. Garcia explained, “Various departments work together to plan and promote these events in a very hands on way.” Rodriguez stated, “There is much more to come.” Negron quoted his musical idol, Al Jolson, by saying, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”