In 1999, I was in Cleveland helping Cleveland Indians General Manager John Hart and his special assistant, Tom “T-Bone” Giordano with Dwight “Doc” Gooden’s drug recovery program. I assisted team Psychologist Charlie Maher, who was considered maybe the best ever in sports.
Charlie and John had me help out with young players and the young Latin players. One of those players was a 19 year old kid from California whose name was Carsten Charles Sabathia, aka C.C.
John Hart told me at the time that if this kid walked the straight and narrow in baseball that his abilities would get him to the hall of fame. At that time I remember introducing Sabathia to Gooden and I will never forget how excited he was to meet Doc. I will also never forget how honest Doc was with CC about his life.
I will always be grateful to George Steinbrenner, John Hart and Tom Giordano for understanding that I needed to go to Cleveland to baby sit Doc. The Boss literally checked on Doc and me several times a week. It also introduced me to the world of sports psychology and how important it was. The highlight will always be meeting the big lefthander from California, who is still the same person now that he was 20 years ago, if that’s even possible.
Please read the Q and A that I did with C. C. Sabathia and you can watch the video on my Facebook page or Instagram: Raynegronyanks.
Negron: So CC, everything that has been written, I don’t have to ask you anymore, because it’s been out there. Everybody knows the legend of CC Sabathia. You were a Cleveland Indian initially, I saw you as a teenage kid, how do you feel about the fact that it’s been so long ago?
Sabathia: Yeah, it’s been 19 years since I came up. It’s been a blessing. Being able to get the chance to play for this organization late in my career, I couldn’t ask for a better organization to come to. The last 11 years has been unbelievable. To be able to end with the Yankees was a dream of mine. I thank the Steinbrenner family for getting that done and letting me end my career here. I am excited for this last year and to go out with a bang.
Negron: I take great pride with the fact that in your free agency year I used to say to you “please think about the Yankees”, do you remember that?
Sabathia: Yeah, of course!
Negron: “Please think about the Yankees, it would be a great time.” How do you feel about my premonition?
Sabathia: It worked out. Even in ’08 when I was getting traded we talked. I wanted to go through that free agency process and just make sure I checked all those boxes off and was able to still come here, it’s been a great deal.
Negron: I’ve been here 46 years. I’ve seen it all whether it was Munson, Pinella, Reggie, you have taken the whole thing of being off the field, helping children, being a factor in the community, all from the heart, where did that come from?
Sabathia: I think it was something that I was born with. When I was a kid I got to meet Dave Stewart when I was 9-years old and the impact that had on my life made me want to give back to kids. If I can have that effect on one kid in the Bronx or in California, it’s all worth it. For me meeting Dave Stewart at 9-years old gave me the incentive to start a Foundation and do all of these things across the country. If one kid can see that and start his own Foundation and do those things, it’s all worth it.
Negron: What you did on the field helped you become that much greater off the field. Kids that will become grown men will never forget the legend of CC Sabathia, because you started helping a lot of these kids when they were 8, 10, 12, 15, and now they are 25 and 30. How do you feel about how you helped some of these kids grow up?
Sabathia: Yeah it’s amazing. Especially when I get a chance to see some of those scholarships we give out and see those kids graduate college and come back and help my community in Vallejo, and different things between helping the community in the Bronx and the Boys and Girls Club, it’s a great thing. It’s a way to leave my legacy and leave my name.
Negron: Everywhere I go throughout New York, first question that comes out of these kids’ mouths, “do you know CC Sabathia?” And I am proud to be able to say that I know you. And I just want to be able to say to all people that we have to thank you for your kindness, your generosity, and always treating me a regular kid from these streets with class and dignity, you never big-leagued me and I am eternally grateful for that.
Sabathia: I have to say thank you too. Meeting you at 19 years old made a big impact on me in my life in those Indian years I never forget, so I have to say thank you.
Negron: It’s been a great honor and thank you for the great compliment.