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Ray Negron

Negron: “It Was A Very Good Year”

Ray Negron

The title to this story is part of the great Frank Sinatra song, “It Was A Very Good Year.”

At the age of 21, I would actually get to meet the great Mr. Sinatra and understand the true magnitude of this incredible entertainment giant. I would get to understand that there is something very spiritual, that maybe even he didn’t know that he had. However you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know that it was there.

I loved the fact that even though he was a Dodgers’ fan now, he had a great respect for the Yankees. That initial meeting was at a Manhattan restaurant called “Patsy’s”, which is located on 56th street and Broadway. This was in the fall of 1977 after the Yanks had beaten the Dodgers in six games and Thurman Munson proclaimed Reggie Jackson as Mr. October after Reggie put on what, was arguably the greatest performance in World Series history.

The great Yankee manager, Billy Martin, brought just about the whole team to Patsy’s and when Billy went to pay the bill, Joe Scognamillo, the owner, told him that Mr. S had paid it. During that evening it was great to see the World Champion Yankees in complete awe at the fact that Old blue eyes or the “Chairman of the board” was literally right there. This showed me that my beloved Yankees were human after all.

It was very sweet to see former Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent act like a true fan. I remember Bucky saying that Sinatra had to be the biggest star in the world. It was also incredible that before Sinatra left, he would say good bye to everyone then he would leave through his own doorway and private staircase. This was after Sinatra would have some private words with Billy.

One thing that Mr. Sinatra did say to Billy that I overheard was that Tom Lasorda was a damn liar, that he was actually rooting for the Yankees. Then they laughed out loud. I think Billy knew who was really lying.

One month later, Billy Martin, who I considered one of my baseball fathers would actually take me back to Patsy’s and we would have a memorable dinner with Mr. Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. To this day I am always reminded of that very good year by Joe the owner and his wonderful son Sal. I love the fact that they keep the spirits alive. Whenever I eat upstairs at Patsy’s, I can feel Mr. S at his corner table.

For Mr. Sinatra, for Billy Martin and for all the Yankees it was a very good night and
It Was A Very Good Year.

On October 27th, the play, “BATBOY,” will be performed at the Argyle Theatre in Babylon, Long Island, and you can see Patsy’s co-owner Sal Scognamillo and Sal “the Voice” Valentinetti as Frank Sinatra, recreate that time in 1977. Get your tickets at Argyletheatre.com


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