Eight years ago I wrote a book called Yankee Miracles. One of the stories naturally talks about the day that George Steinbrenner caught me doing graffiti outside Yankee Stadium. How he gave me a job as a Yankee batboy. It also talks about how he knew that I wasn’t responsible for all the tagging that was being done on the Stadium that year but he was sure that I knew who they were. He said that he didn’t want me to tell him who they were but that if I wanted to keep the job as a batboy that I would let the people responsible know to back off. Well I did deliver the message and the powers that be in the neighborhood did the right thing for the Yankees and for me.
Forty seven years later we have the protests going on throughout the country. Some cities it actually turned ugly as anger turned into looting. I felt that it was important that I attended as many of the protest as possible so that I could understand what the people were really feeling also I wanted to see how many people really cared. I can honestly say that I went to the protest in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island and naturally the Bronx. The Bronx was personal to me because I was born there and of course the Yankees are there. The first night things got ugly so I called many of my acquaintances and friends that live there including former Yankee Batboy Luis Castillo and we visited the local housing projects including Trinity and Soundview. We visited with many of the guys from the surrounding neighborhoods , we brought food that was donated by Puerto Rico U. S. A. Bagels Chalet and we even shared some pizza pies that was donated by Rosas from Great Neck. During our pow wows we talked about our love of the Yankees. I shared with them the fact that George Steinbrenner was the first Yankee owner that went out of his way to hire as many neighborhood people as possible. I also explained how he went out of his way to also hire as many minorities as possible. I explained that to me this was personal because of all the years that I have invested there and my love of the Yankee brand. I also shared a laugh with them when I said that the fact that many of them wore Yankee caps I know that Yankee Stadium would always be protected by them. One of the guys asked me if the Yankees asked me to come here and I said no. I came because Yankee Stadium has always been my cocoon. The Stadium saved my life. They all knew my story and just wanted to know if the Boss as Mr Steinbrenner is still known in these Bronx’s streets, was all that. I told them ,he was all that and more. Luis and I left with a good feeling about our visits to the different projects and the fact to the matter many of my people here are as big a Yankee fan as I am.
I’m not saying that my visit with some of these very tough hombres was vital in what could of happened at the Stadium however if some possible crazy things might be going on outside your house aren’t you gonna do anything possible to protect it ?
Besides, 47 years ago the Boss asked me to deliver a message. So I guess I’m still delivering that message.
I want to thank all the guys in the Bronx. It was great breaking bread with you and I appreciate the respect. Thanks Squigee for getting me into some places that I couldn’t get into by myself