This week I was able to see the past and the present do what they do best–Give of themselves for the less fortunate.
Throughout my time with the Yankees, a period that spans forty eight years, I have learned why George Steinbrenner once firmly said that he didn’t want his players to think that they are heroes if they didn’t truly act like one.
Bernie Williams was a great Yankee for 16 years. His exploits on the field are legendary to the point that he really should eventually be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I’m not going to get into statistics and analytics. If you don’t know this incredible person’s contribution to our great game then shame on you.
The thing that I loved the most about Bernie was and is his humanitarian heart. During his years with the Yankees I don’t remember a time when I asked him to help me with a cause that he let me down.
When his father died of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), Bernie decided to take up the fight to find a cure.
I can’t tell you how many charity events he attends where he ends up entertaining the whole party because he has become a world renowned guitarist.
Thurman Munson’s wonderful wife, Diane, called Bernie “one of the finest and classiest people that she has ever known.”
This week, Bernie was inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame. This award was given to him for what he has accomplished both on and off the field.
When it comes to Gio Urshela, this is one of the finest individuals to ever put on a Yankee uniform.
George Steinbrenner used to say that if more than a certain number of people know what you do from a charitable standpoint, you are doing it for the wrong reason. Well Gio has never ever bragged about his incredible exploits both on and off the field.
I happen to think that getting Gio from Toronto has been one of the best deals that Brian Cashman has ever done because no one had ever expected what he has given us on the field. So many timely hits over this three year period and how many incredible “Graig Nettles type plays” Also, who will ever forget that incredible catch when he ended up landing in the visiting dugout!
Again, Gio’s statistics speak for themselves. What you don’t hear about are his wonderful exploits in helping the kids of the Bronx. His beautiful hand holding of children at hospitals and how when he couldn’t visit because of the pandemic he would “FaceTime.”
For this reason, the Cristian Rivera Foundation has awarded Gio with the Heroes Award at their annual gala. In front of a gigantic gathering of the “who’s who” in the world of business and entertainment, this young man said it beautifully, “We are Yankees it’s what we do.”
The audience cheered with approval and later the new mayor elect of New York, Erik Adams, told Gio that he has noticed what he has done and thanked him.
I like to think that George Steinbrenner would agree with me that Bernie Williams and Gio Urshela have acted like heroes and should always be thought of that way.