As the fifth anniversary of the passing of George Steinbrenner III nears, July 13, many think of the life of the legendary former owner of the New York Yankees. Although he left a wife, two sisters, four children and several grandchildren that mourn him, Steinbrenner is constantly in the thoughts of others whose lives he influenced.
A man who remembers him every day with gratitude is Ray Negron, a consultant to the Yankees, “He was the greatest man I have ever known. He treated me like I was somebody special. He made me find the confidence I needed as a person. Next to my mother, he is the most important person I have known and will ever know. I excruciatingly miss him.”
Negron first met Steinbrenner under very strange circumstances shortly after Steinbrenner purchased the franchise in the Bronx in 1973. Negron was spray painting graffiti on the outside of the iconic stadium when he was caught by a guard and the Yankee owner. Rather than having him arrested, the owner hired him to work in the clubhouse seemingly as a means to pay back the damages he caused.
The relationship between the two did not officially end until Steinbrenner’s death in 2010, yet in some ways it does continue as Steinbrenner’s memory remains embedded in Negron’s heart and mind. Not only does Negron still work for the Yankees, but he has continued to be a positive presence in the community which shows the people of the South Bronx, where Yankee Stadium is located, that someone from the Yankees cares about their well-being. His continued presence in the organization is a sign to the people of the area that the New York Yankees are not a foreign entity in their midst, but a good and valued neighbor.
Negron’s good works are not only recognized in the Bronx. In late May and again in late June, Negron was invited to interact with the fans of the AAA franchise of the Yankees, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders. The extremely articulate writer and speaker regaled the fans with stories of the legendary club of the 1970’s as well as the current players on the team. He also signed autographs, posed for photos and, as always, was especially gracious to the children at the ballpark.
In addition to the effort he makes for the Yankees and his many charitable endeavors, Negron is trying to live the American dream by having been involved in many other projects during the past several years.
He has authored four uplifting children’s books, each involved with the life of the Yankees, “The Boy of Steel’, “The greatest Story Never Told”, “One Last Time: Good-bye to Yankee Stadium” and ‘CC Claus”. He also penned a memoir recounting his life with Steinbrenner and the Yankees, “Yankee Miracles.”
The very personable Negron has always been a show business natural. He had a part in the motion picture “Cotton Club” with Richard Gere decades ago. He again teamed up with the esteemed actor when Negron produced the animated, baseball film, “Henry & Me” in which Gere portrayed Henry Louis Gehrig.
Currently Negron is working on a reality TV show that takes place in the Bronx, and is co-host with Felix DeJesus on a weekly radio interview program on WPAT on Wednesday from 7-8 pm.