August 16, 1977 I remember walking into the Yankee clubhouse. I went to my locker which was next to Reggie Jackson and third base coach Dick Howser. Batboy Hector Pagan came up to me and told me that Elvis Presley had just died. I looked at Dick Howser who I knew was as big an Elvis fan as I was and he confirmed it.
That was a very sad day for me and so many of the King of Rock and Roll fans.
It was a very crazy year in New York. You had the son of Sam running crazy in the streets shooting and killing innocent young ladies. A major blackout ,Billie Martin and Reggie Jackson almost attacking each other in the dugout in Fenway Park. So many things went down that year, however world wide losing Elvis was by far number one. He was truly an idol to me and so many like me. It didn’t matter if you were black or white, male or female, Elvis had an affect on you. Years down the road I would become extremely close friends to entertainers like James Brown and Tony Orlando and they would share just wonderful stories about their personal friendships with Elvis Presley. I would get to meet his wife Priscilla Presley and of course I would hear some nice anecdotes about the King.
Their was just a cool flair about the man and he had a very nice kindness towards others. The thing that really caught my heart about Elvis was how James Brown would talk to me about how decent and kind Presley was towards common black people. Always making them feel like their lives mattered and how they were somebody. That was a trait that was very important in my relationship with George Steinbrenner. During a very insecure period of my life, when I felt so inferior to others the Boss made me put my head up and helped me to understand that I was somebody too.
Billy Thurman and Reggie gave me big time support also and for that I will always be eternally grateful.
In 1995 my son Ricky was born. It was a difficult labor for their mom Brenda. Thank God everything worked out OK.
I had always had the responsibility of naming all my kids. I had told Brenda that I wanted to name the new baby Elvis Presley Negron. She said over her dead body. I told her that this was important to me and she said that kids would make fun of him. In my mind I thought that if my son would someday make it to the big Leagues that his walk up song when he came to bat would always be an Elvis song. Brenda just wasn’t having it.
Well when she gave birth to the baby she was so medicated from the delivery that she was knocked out. At that point I went down to the records department to sign the birth certificate. They asked me for the babies name and I put down Elvis Presley Negron. The lady writing down the certificate chuckled. Then she said she would have to go up the Brenda’s room to get her signature. At that point I knew I was in trouble. I went back upstairs with my daughter Toni who was only Three however she knew my Goose might be cooked. My son Joey couldn’t of cared less. He just laughed.
In my mind I was hoping that Brenda was so groggy that she would just sign the certificate just to get the lady out of her room. Well we waited outside the room as the lady walked in with her paperwork. All of a sudden me and the kids would hear Brenda scream out ‘No f_ _king way’. I guess she didn’t like the name. All I could remember after that was Toni laughing. She knew I was in for it.
Well at the end of the day I ended up naming the baby Ricky Deniro Negron. It’s a nice name but Elvis would of been cool.
Well it’s a funny Elvis story and I’m blessed to of lived during the Elvis era. I’m also blessed to have 4 wonderful kids who accept their somewhat eccentric dad who loves Elvis music and of course them so very much.
Every Aug 16, I can honestly say that I always remember where I was. Just like August 2 and Thurman etc.
Ricky, you were almost ELVIS!