During this Pandemic I have gotten the support of many young athletes in the New York area to help me locate food and feed people in need. Many of the local minor and major league players have been just wonderful because they understand how blessed they are. Some high school and college kids have called me to see how they could help. That really touched my heart because their feelings for those in need was so sincere.
One of those players was a high school senior by the name of Alex Santos who literally lives several blocks away from Yankee Stadium. He graduated from Mount Saint Michael High School. Because of my Bronx background and Yankee pedigree, people are always wanting to assist me in helping people in the Bronx.
Last week I got a call from Adrian Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers and his dad to see if I would talk to the young high school kid who was gonna go high in the baseball draft and possibly give him and his dad, Alex, senior some advice. I said sure and when we spoke we actually did so at the old Yankee Stadium. I go there often to pray and I told them we would feel the spirits of Yankees past there. It was a wonderful meeting. We actually stood at home plate because it was Thurman Munson’s birthday.
They shared with me about how much they wanted to be Yankees. I told them that it’s so hard to predict what will happen in a draft but that if they were drafted by another team, that you could still end up a Yankee down the road. Case in point being Gerrit Cole.
After we spent a couple of hours talking Yankee history and my life with the Bronx Bombers, we walked around the park and I showed them where the great moments happened in Yankee history, like Mickey Mantle’s 500th home run, Reggie’s three home runs in the 1977 World Series and the spot where Lou Gehrig told his speech. This kid and his dad are real Yankee fans and I could tell that they couldn’t hear enough about the Yanks. They also loved hearing about the incredible mystique of George Steinbrenner.
I really enjoyed myself walking around the old Stadium with the Santos family because they really appreciate the aura and true magic of the Yankees. Before we said our goodbyes I presented them my official batboy cap and a copy of my book, “Yankee Miracles.”
Alex and his dad wanted to know if they could help out with our next food drive and I told them that I would be honored for them to help. The next food drive was at Mount Vernon Boys & Girls Club and Alex and his dad, along with Adrian from the Rangers and his dad, were the first ones there. The players really worked hard and I can honestly say that the people were happy to meet them and very happy for the food.
One of the players asked if the Yankees always deal with the community this way and I told them that as long as the team was owned by a Steinbrenner, it has been this way.
On draft day, Alex and his family got together in front of the television and waited for their moment. With their pick in the second round of the draft, the Houston Astros selected Alex Santos. Everyone there screamed with joy and happiness. Tears came down the cheeks of father and son. The first phase of an incredible journey and dream has been completed. Being the father of a drafted son I truly appreciated what they were feeling. I was drafted in the second round by the Pirates in 1975 but I have to tell you, as a parent I enjoyed seeing my son drafted much more. Like Adrian Rodriguez, Alex Santos is a very special young man. His parents did a wonderful job at raising him. When they asked me for one bit of advice I said that I would tell them what George Steinbrenner told me at the same stage … don’t forget your people, don’t ever forget where you come from and never be afraid to extend your hand to those in need.
I wish Alex and his family God’s blessings and please enjoy the ride because time goes fast.