Negron’s Batboy Tales

Burt Reynolds a true movie Star and nice man. 

In 1982 I got to work in my first movie. It was call Blue Skies Again. Warner Brothers produced it. It was a coming of age baseball comedy. It stared Harry Hamlin and I was actually a co-star in the film with Andy Garcia and Star Search heartthrob Joey Gian. (If you don’t believe me, you can look it up). 

After that film my Florida agent, Dee Miller had me audition for a film call Smokey and the Bandit 2. 

The part called for an African American actor. Since I had just played the part of Jerry Washburn, an African American, My agent  thought I could get away with it in this film also. What she forgot was that my skills as a ball player along with my Afro haircut pushed me over the edge. 

The minute that I walked into the Miami studio, the first thing out of the casting directors mouth was ‘ your not really black, your Hispanic!  One of the other persons in the room who was reading my actor resume yelled out ‘ Do you know Dick Howser?  I was shocked because who would know Dick Howser other than a true baseball person that knew Howser and his time as a great Yankees coach. 

Well to my surprise it was Burt Reynolds the star of this project and so many great films. Reynolds told me that Howser and he were very good friends and went to school together at Florida State in Tallahasee. 

He said unfortunately your not right for this part but let’s do the test anyway just in case something else comes up.

Just that alone made my day. After the screen test was over I thanked Burt Reynolds for the opportunity and he said, I want to thank you because now I can tell Dick Howser that I had one of his Yankee people test for me. He said that I gave him ammunition to pull some pranks on Howser. 

I guess he did because every time I saw Dick Howser after that he would say, Ray you ain’t no actor. Also that I made him look bad in front of Burt Reynolds then he would laugh. 

I would never see Burt Reynolds again however that one experience with a true giant in the film business who was also so very sweet to me that day is something that I never forgot. 

Dick Howser was always very proud of his friendship with Burt Reynolds and loved talking about what a wonderful person Burt Reynolds was. I only had 10 minutes with the man. Those 10 minutes told me that Dick Howser was telling it like it was about his friend Burt Reynolds. 

Thanks for sharing your talents with all of us Mr Reynolds. 

Rest In Peace. 

Bird Flies High in Class 

How do you measure a N.Y. Yankee? 

That’s a tough question because so many have failed the test. Not everyone that plays for the Yanks have the personality of a Bobby Murcer or a Bernie Williams or a Lou Gehrig. Those are giant shoes to fill. 

The other day I was watching the post game show. This was a game after the new first baseman Luke Voit had homered and at the end of the game they brought in Greg Bird to pinch hit with the bases loaded. He hit a ball that was caught at the wall and the game was over. 

When it came time to talk to the media Bird was there with his head held hi. He told them that he was disappointed and would just keep swinging. 

There was one writer in particular that kept asking Bird how did it feel to see Voit doing so well playing his position. As a matter of fact the writer kept asking the same question in five different ways. To his credit Bird kept his cool and didn’t give the writer what he he was looking for. Bird showed tremendous class and never showed the writer that he was upset in any way. 

When he told the writers that he was really enjoying the performance that Voit put on and all he wants is to win as a Yankee. I once heard Bobby Murcer say the same thing when he was traded back to the Yankees in 1979. The Boss told Bobby that he would be a backup player on the team and Bobby told him that he was just happy to be there to help the Yankees win in any way possible. What I loved about that was that I knew that Bobby Murcer meant it.

What I loved about the Greg Bird incident was that I know he meant it to. 

It’s hard to put it into words what a true Yankee is because there are so many facets to it. However getting to know Bird the last couple of years I can honestly say that as a person, he is on his way to being a great Yankee. 

Thanks for Your Service Ralph Cavalieri 

Your probably asking yourself who is Ralph Cavalieri? Well for your information Ralph is a hero from World War Two. He has won several distinguished medals for his efforts in that horrible war and has been a great example to any one that has known him. At the age of 92 he knows more about the Yankees than anyone I know dating back to 1939 to present day. I can say that I saw Mickey Mantle play. Well he can top me because he saw Lou Gehrig play. I saw Mickey’s farewell speech, well he saw Gehrig’s and Babe Ruth’s speech. 

A friend of mine told me that Ralph wanted to have coffee with me. When I saw this man’s resume, I couldn’t wait to meet him. I went to his home for coffee and ended up staying for three hours. His story about the war was incredible and his story of his love for the Yankees was just fascinating. Ralph tried on my World Series ring and told me that it was a great thrill. Can you believe that, my ring. It’s people like Ralph and some of the people that I meet in my travels that continue to tell me why I’m still in love with this storied organization. 

Thank you Ralph for all your service.

About the Author

Get connected with us on Social Media