Anyone that really knows me, knows that I was always a big fan of Elvis Presley. I was a fan for many reasons including the fact that Elvis was a man that reached out to help many people. He was a man that felt that it was important to be there for the less privileged. This includes the sick and needy. I once saw that an organization called the Jaycees , which honored Americas ten best young men each year for their humanitarian efforts actually gave Elvis an award for his work with many charities including St Jude’s Childrens Hospital in Memphis. As Elvis was making his acceptance speech he said, when I was a kid I read comic books and I was the hero in the comic book. Elvis also emphasized that it was important to never give up on your dreams.
Throughout the years I use to have a habit of bringing the young prospects in the Yankee organization up to George Steinbrenner’s office. This was a big deal for these kids and I know that the Boss got a kick out of seeing the look in their faces. I did this with Derek Jeter and many of the young players. The one rookie that I got the biggest kick in doing this with was the day I had rookie Robinson Cano meet the Boss for the first time. For what ever the reason Mr. Steinbrenner got a big kick out of Robinson. One of the things that Robinson said to the Boss was that when he was a kid he always dreamed of becoming a major leaguer and someday being the hero in a World Series. The Boss looked Robinson in the eyes and said, “There is something very special about you.”
At that moment, he asked Robinson if he would do him a favor. He did something that I never saw the Boss do. He asked Robinson if he would sign a picture for him. Robinson looked at me in amazement. I have to say, I was pretty surprised myself. Mr. Steinbrenner asked his secretary to find a Robinson Cano picture. Mr Steinbrenner asked Robinson to keep chasing his dreams.
About a few months later, I would take Robinson to his first hospital visit to Hackensack Medical Center in New Jersey. A man named Dave Jurist who was involved with the hospital told me about a very sick little boy. I told the story to the Boss because of his involvement with so many hospitals and children’s causes and he told me to take some of the players there to cheer up the kids. I think I took five players that day including Robinson Cano. During our visit while walking from room to room we noticed that we had lost one of our players, Robinson Cano. When we finally tracked him down he was located in one of the rooms with a little boy that had been in the hospital for quite sometime. All I could do was just stare at a beautiful scene of two very innocent young souls. At that moment I thought of the Boss because this would not of happened without the great heart that most people didn’t know that he had and it also made me think of Elvis Presley and his dreams.
At this moment, I came up with an idea of doing a children’s book and in it Robinson Cano would be the hero. I went back to Mr Steinbrenner and told him of my idea and he told me to go for it.
I am proud to say that the book ‘The Boy of Steel’ became a national best seller and an animated film was actually made based on the book. I must also add that Robinson Cano made so many visits to the hospital and cheered so many lives that the hospital actually named a children’s therapy wing after him.
One of the saddest days for the hospital was when Robinson Cano signed with the Seattle Mariners. A celebrity that was always there for the kids was no longer around. It was hard for many of the kids because they would miss Robinson’s big smile and great stories. This week Robinson was traded to the New York Mets. One of the first things he did was to contact me about visiting the Hospital. Yesterday I met him and David Jurist there and I could tell by the look in his face how proud he was that the Robinson Cano wing was still there.
David told Robinson that because of all the great work and all the young lives he had touched, the Cano wing would always be there. At that moment Cano turned to me and said this doesn’t happen without George Steinbrenner. “I am so very happy to be a New York Met but I will never forget what George Steinbrenner meant in my life,” he said.
A special thank you from the Hospital to the New York Mets for donating toys for the Kids.