Negron: Columbia Ray

The nicest thing to happen to me during the AllStar Break was to get invited to speak at Columbia University.

The reason that it meant so much was because as a little boy I remember watching the movie, The Pride of the Yankees. The second scene in the film showed Lou Gehrig and his life at Columbia University.

The cinematographer in the film did a wonderful job of showing the different parts of the campus.

When I got into the center of the school and saw the magnificent steps headed towards the library, it put me right into the movie. I was literally living a dream because all of this and that movie was the initial reason why I fell in love with the Yankees.

My life has always revolved around dreams.

Everything that I have ever done, from my first day with George Steinbrenner and the Bronx Bombers to present day still deals with living dreams. One great prophet once said that when you stop dreaming you eventually stop living.

Just recently Joe Favorito a teacher at Columbia and one of the best sports publicist asked me if I would speak to his sports business class.

To say that I was flattered is an understatement.
I speak at different colleges all the time but to speak to students from all around the world at Lou Gehrig’s alma mater was truly a dream come true. I told the students that the only other speaking engagement that came close was when I got to speak with the great evangelist Joel Osteen at a capacity filled stadium.

The students were great because they wanted to hear all about my life and why I loved baseball and the Yankees so much. They wanted to know about the importance and impact that George Steinbrenner had not only in baseball, but in sports as a whole.

I shared about my personal experiences with the Boss and things that I witnessed that told me that Mr Steinbrenner was making history. Some of the kids that lived in the states and were somewhat familiar with names like Munson and Jeter and Judge wanted to know which player meant the most. I’m never shy about the fact that to me Munson and the players of the Boss’s initial dynasty of the 70s are my heart and soul.

The enthusiasm that these kids showed me made it difficult for me to leave.the question and answer segment was one of the best I ever had .I had an interview to do at WPIX TV but I was having such a good time with Joe and his students, so I just made a decision that I would just have to be late.
What made it great was that these kids were so diverse in race and color and having such a great time together that it makes you feel that there truly is hope for our world.

When I finished my talk, the kids gave me such an ovation that the only thing that I could think of was that this moment was happening because 45 years earlier, the great owner of the Yankees had a heart and gave a poor kid born in the Bronx neighborhood a chance.

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