Ray Negron arrived from Yankee Stadium and entered the doorway of the T M Baseball and Softball Training Academy on Seabury Avenue in the Bronx. The special consultant to owners of the New York Yankees who also reaches out to the community saw something special and he paused to take a look.
The instructors were under the nets drilling many of the student-athletes who attend the academy to improve their game. Moments later and after another long day of community outreach and meetings at the stadium, Negron went under the nets and it was all about baseball. life as a dad and how to succeed.
They spent over an hour and listened carefully. And then the questions about how to succeed. and it was asked “How many of you have grown up without a father?” Negron knows about growing up in the Bronx. He was a troubled youngster before George Steinbrenner, the late owner of the Yankees, took him in with an opportunity to mature.
“Never say you can’t do it,” he said. One youngster, finishing his senior year at a nearby high school had tears because the impact of what Negron said about being the father of three boys who he continues to keep in touch with, Rickey was drafted by the San Diego Padres last year, another recently won the light heavyweight Golden Gloves Amateur championship and there is the son who works in law enforcement.
He tells the true story about how Steinbrenner took him in as a Yankee bat boy. Negron was caught doing graffiti on the walls of the old Yankee Stadium and has been in the Yankees organization the past 40 years. The latest Yankees World Series championship ring on his right index finger is distinctive as he talks,
“If there were two guys and I needed someone to help them out the first guy I go to is Alex Rodriguez,” he says, “because he is a reactor He feels, he’s been around. He grew up without a dad. He will always do for the young people all the time without anyone knowing about it… without doing it without a foundation and that is the aspect about integrity”
Negron also held back tears relating his experiences about being the dad that can’t be there all the time. And those aspiring young players heard true accounts about being a dad, experiences about the game of baseball and then he asked:
“Do I have a college degree?” They could not answer. Negron said he had George Steinbrenner who would understand who you were, and it did not matter what color you are and he is the executive without the college degree but offered encouragement about continuing their education with baseball as a good tool.
Negron added, he understands the intensity and desire to succeed and encouraged them to continue the education and strive to succeed. “Always think about the next level,” he said.
The New York Times bestselling author has been honored for his charitable work. The humanitarian awards are numerous and awards from community organizations are extensive. He was inducted into the Ted Williams Hall of Fame and the International Latino Sports Hall of Fame.
But the love is with baseball and helping the many youngsters who want to achieve. And in today’s society having Ray Negron around as an influence is as good as the Lord coming down from Heaven.
A few weeks ago, Negron was requested to co-host a NY Yankees pre-game program on WPIX TV in New York City. He was in the studio with anchor Andy Adler who made the request. The Yankees, down in Tampa Bay saw their righthander Masahiro Tanaka throw seven good innings. Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez hit long home runs that helped the Yankees to a 4-1 win.
His knowledge of the game was impeccable. Adler was impressed more because Negron, in the pre game talk analyzed how Tanaka would handle the lineup of the Rays. Negron also analyzed how Beltran and A-Rod would handle Rays’ starting pitcher Chris Archer and would hit the homerun ball.
Negron, also a co-host of a weekly show with Felix DeJesus on WPAT Radio in New York, says he is not a prognosticator. He knows the game of baseball and did not follow through with a new show on ESPN Radio Deportes. He said, they would not do a bi-lingual show and that is why he bailed out.
But it is that devotion to the Yankees that consumes most of his day, and he will never say that Steinbrenner did him wrong. It’s a message heard loud and clear for a person who loves the game of baseball.
“Whenever I go to do TV, I will always be an ambassador,” says Negron. ”The one thing I have always been positive is by far, the legacy of the Yankees …. Have been one of the great ambassadors of the Yankees for over 40 years since the day George grabbed me off the street to try and pay back that debt.”
And for the New York Yankees with all the tradition of Ruth, Berra, Reggie Jackson and more, and for the game of baseball, Negron is that one ambassador that they are blessed to have.
You got that prevailing attitude of positive and good energy when he left the T M Baseball facility last week about being the proper person who represents the Yankees organization. Ray Negron got in his car and went home after another long day and prepared for the next one with his mission to keep sending the message.
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso