We hear so many stories today about how people are helping others during this pandemic. How people like my own wife who works every day for hours making masks for those on the front line of this disaster. Others are out there risking their own health to bring everything from masks to food for those who need them. One of the things people need just as much today, are comforting visits because they are so stressed out.
The problem with trying to actually go visit and give a hug or a smiling face, is that we need to practice social distancing. Plus, if you are able to get close to someone in need of a friendly smile, you need to cover it with a mask.
I was talking to NY Yankees Executive Ray Negron today and he told me some things about his trips, along with his friend and colleague, Steve Vaccaro, who accompanies him to hospitals, and food pantries along with Police and Fire Departments throughout the city and Long Island.
Ray has been bringing comfort and support to those that need that hug and smile for many years now. He told me that when he tells them he represents the Yankees, the people immediately light up. He has always gone to see those who are hurting, some on their last breath. It is what he does. Usually he brings big league players or famous people from the entertainment business. Today that is not possible.
He tells me that he has seen many ugly scenes when he goes to these places. Telling me he can only get to the lobby of these hospitals now, where he brings bagels, pizza, etc. for the workers. For the people who are working desperately to keep people alive, the Yankee presence puts a smile on their faces and gets them generally excited to know that the Yankees are there to help in any way that they can. To give them the reassurance that there are people who care about them.
But for Ray, there is something missing. He wants to be with the patients who are in need of any thing he can give. He said, “Imagine if it were one of those celebrities that these people had met?” He mentioned that Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres called him to offer what ever they could do to bring a smile and some comfort to the people that Ray was trying to visit. The fact that both of these young Yankees told him that, inspires him to do more and more every day. Ray had to sadly tell them that it wasn’t possible to see the patients and that it would be too dangerous for them to help.
These are the kind of people we have in the sports world. These are the stories we don’t hear.
Will we have baseball this year? Who knows and frankly, who cares at this point. Baseball will return, the owners want to make money. That will never change but we need to focus on getting our people back to health and begin to see some kind of normality again.
One of my friends told me yesterday, that we are not seeing that much grief and mourning (virtual or otherwise) for the 60,000 dead? He added that it’s like our leaders in Washington are saying: “Only 350 dead in NYC yesterday! Yippee!” Let’s plan a parade for July for our great victory.
We are far from a victory celebration. For now we need to continue to bring help and encouragement to those who need it. Talent is not the only thing God gave to men like Urshela and Torres. Both will tell you that they appreciate all that they have and want to give back to the city of New York. They will go with Ray to hospitals and sandlots to be with kids not just during the season but throughout the year as their schedules permit.
Today volunteers like Negron, Torres, Urshela and others like them, who know how fortunate they are, want to bring hope to people in need just to let them know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. They will tell you; “We are Yankees, it’s what we do.”