NY Sports Day
Ray Negron

Negron’s Impact: Yankees Guidry in Ted Williams Hall of Fame

Just recently, arguably the greatest second baseman in Yankee history, Willie Randolph asked me how I remember all of the great stories that I write about. I told him very simply that I didn’t have to play!

George Steinbrenner had me there to take care of everybody, so it is easy to remember the stories. It’s almost as if every one of the players has their own chapter. I actually started my writing when we lost Thurman Munson.

Even though I had dealt with death before, with Thurman it was the first time I lost someone that I truly loved. It affected me in such a way that I started to hyper ventilate. I just couldn’t breath!

I literally thought I was having a heart attack. When I went to see a doctor he understood what was going on in my life and recommended that I start writing down my thoughts so that I could release a lot of the things that I was holding in my mind.

Amazingly, it worked. The first story that I wrote was one called “Five Days in August”

It is the story of those first five days after Thurman died. The pain that we went through the clubhouse and the incredible love that was displayed by all of the players–Not just for Thurman, but for everyone. I honestly believe that a lot of those guys actually learned how to share love because of this period of time. If you go into the internet you can find this story.

Throughout the 45 years that I have been around the Yankees, I have learned that all these guys that have had the honor of wearing those classic pinstripes have thier own stories that they love to share with people. They also have stories that are either too personal or they just don’t know how to express them.

One of those guys is the former great Yankee pitcher Ron Guidry.

As many of you know, I am on the board of the Ted Williams Hall of Fame in St Petersburg Florida.  I have been for the past twelve years. I love it because I get to honor many of the heroes that I grew up with, guys  that I honestly believe should be in Cooperstown but for whatever reason fall short.

I actually met Mr Williams through my relationship with George Steinbrenner and his organizational insurance representative, Dick Biley. One way or another the relationship grew and thanks to Dave McCarthy, the museum curator, we have been able to keep the place alive. The best part of the museum is that we are able to help different charities in the Tampa Bay Area. Then there is the players selection process and the arguments that come with each selection. The one thing that we decided in our selection process was not to get involved with all the politics that surround the players. Let’s keep it simple.

Were they great player? Were they good people? Did they try to help thy fellow man? If you knew anything at all about Ted Williams then you would know that next to hitting, that was all he cared about. Oh and by the way, let’s not forget that when Mr Williams was inducted into Cooperstown, he closed his speech by saying that he would be happy when the Hall of Fame starts to let the Negro league Players into the Hall, however I will save this for my black history month story.

Yesterday we had our 2018 induction ceremony. Many players were inducted but the one that meant the most to me was the great Yankee lefthander Ron Guidry. In 1978, Ron had arguably the greatest season any Yankee pitcher had ever had with a 25-3 record and a 1. 74 era. In 1979 when Hall of Famer Goose Gossage broke his hand on Cliff Johnson’s face during a typical “in clubhouse” player brawl, Guidry went to manager Billy Martin and pretty much told him that he was going to the bullpen to be the closer. Let’s not forget that by doing this he was sacrificing not having another twenty game season. I always said that by doing that it could have been the difference between Guidry getting into Cooperstown. However,  if you say this to Guidry he would not have done it any different. That’s Ron Guidry.

Just before last night’s ceremony, Diana Munson sent Ron a congratulatory text thanking him for always being her “knight in shining armor.” Ron and his wife, Bonnie, I found out have been there for the Munson family every step of the way.

To know Ron Guidry is to love Ron Guidry.  It is not surprising that Guidry is the only Yankee pitcher to ever be a team captain. One thing for sure is that he was a leader. Oh and by the way, the Boss loved Ron Guidry’s Rabbit stew. Mr Steinbrenner did not allow “Louisiana Lightning” to spring training without it!

A heartfelt congratulations to the other inductees….

Tony Perez, Dick Allen, J.R.Richard and Charlie Manuel,  the Philadelphia Phillies winningest manager  and one of my best friends in baseball.  Charlie and I became close because of our time together in Cleveland and our mutual love and respect for the great Yankee, Billy Martin.

Much thanks to David McCarthy, George Kati’s and the Beautiful Claudia Williams for helping to keep Ted Williams dream alive.

 

 

Ray Negron’s stories can also be found on nysportsday.com , newsmax.com and Baseballamerica.com

And he can be heard Saturday’s from 12-2pm on Impact ESPN 1050am


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