If you have ever read my book, “Yankee Miracles,” then you would know that there is a chapter in the book about the great Yankee manager, Billy Martin. Billy was a very fierce competitor with a heart of gold. In the book, I talk about a time when Billy took me to the historic New York Italian restaurant, Patsy’s, where we had dinner with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.
At this time, I was young and had a giant “Afro.” I felt like I didn’t belong which was why Billy wanted me along with him. He had always told me that if I was made to feel like I didn’t belong someplace, I shouldn’t want to be there in the first place. Billy taught me to always be confident in myself regardless of what you feel others might have thought of you. A lesson that I would learn many times from George Steinbrenner—but that is a story for another day.
Mr. Sinatra took the notion out of my head very quickly, he made me feel like I did belong. Towards the end of the evening, Mr. Sinatra asked me who my favorite singer was, and before I could answer he said, “Let me guess, Michael Jackson.” Jackson was a big star at this time and I am sure he thought Michael was my favorite because of my “Afro” and the fact that I was skinny like him. I laughed and said, “No, it’s Frankie Valli.” I remember him saying, “You’ve got good taste kid. Frankie Valli is a terrific talent.” I told Mr. Sinatra that in my neighborhood, Frankie Valli is our Frank Sinatra. Mr. Sinatra turned to Billy and said, “This is a good kid,” and Billy responded by saying, “You don’t have to tell me.”
I have been very lucky to have known Frankie Valli for many years. He has been a good friend and has always made me feel like a special person. The last time that he was on Broadway, he asked me where I got my tickets and I told him that I bought them at Ticketmaster. I told him that I wanted to support him on Broadway. He said that he did not like me paying for the tickets and that I should have asked him instead. I was very touched by this gesture, however, I also know that when the Newark Native is in New York, family and friends come from all over and he could fill up the theater with them alone.
When Frankie Valli was in Florida in February I could not make the show but my youngest son Ricky went with my close friend, Aris. Frankie took the time to sit down with Ricky and Aris even though he had other guests backstage. Like Frank Sinatra, he made them feel like they did belong. Frankie is just a flat out good guy and I am very lucky and proud to say that I know him but more importantly, Frankie Valli is my friend.
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will be on Broadway October 21st thru October 29th at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York City. If you have never seen the true Jersey Boy, the Four Seasons of today and his great musical director and friend Robby Robinson (who is incredible on the keyboards) get your tickets now. If you have already seen Frankie perform, then go again because as Barry White once said, “You just can’t get enough.”
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.” He also writes for NEWSMAX. To read Ray’s archive, Go Here Now.