It is another busy month for Ray Negron. One of the longest-tenured employees for the New York Yankees, Negron spends his days and nights speaking to young people and listening to players about the life of supporting the Yankees brand. If there is a community event involving the team, the Queens native is there. If a player is having a tough time, chances are Negron is there to lend an ear. That’s what he has done for the Bombers for over four decades. “It’s part of giving back for what I was given by ‘The Boss’,” he said recently. “It is a labor of love, and it is something I am very proud of. It’s always busy, but it’s not work like digging ditches.”
Negron ended up in his role as trusted advisor to the Steinbrenner family by a fluke. As a teenager in 1973 the Queens teenager got caught with a can of spray paint expressing his love for the team on the hallowed walls outside of Yankee Stadium. His apprehender? A none too amused George Steinbrenner. The new Yankees owner put him to work as a batboy, and, save for a stint in the minor leagues as a player and some stops assisting the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians, he has never left.
His story and those whose paths he has crossed, is told in YANKEE MIRACLES, the best-selling sports book on Amazon.com for the month of September, and a great example of how a simple act of assistance turned into a life’s work. The antithesis of Ball Four or The Bronx Zoo in tone, YANKEE MIRACLES does not dwell on steroids, drug use, or sex scandals, but creates a portrait of baseball that is unapologetically affectionate told by someone, a baseball insider, who was given a very unique second chance.
Negron’s unique perspective on George Steinbrenner—based on the successive breaks the Boss gave him over the last four decades, from batboy to head of community outreach for the Yankees—flies in the face of Steinbrenner’s gruff public image.
By assisting many of Major League Baseball’s greatest stars—Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Mickey Mantle, Bobby Murcer, Catfish Hunter, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Dwight Gooden, even Mrs. Lou Gehrig, as well as celebrities like Richard Gere, Henry Kissinger, Chazz Palminteri and many others—Negron ultimately emerges as a dynamic community leader, dedicating his own life to helping the sick and rescuing generations of city kids from unfulfilled lives. His latest work, as pointed out in the New York Post this past week, has been in assisting the very quiet Alfonso Soriano find his place in New York, especially with Soriano’s interest with young people.
The book is actually the latest in a series of literary efforts by Negron, a list that includes a series of children’s books that have also ended up on the bestseller list. One of those works, “Henry and Me,” is slated to be made into an animated children’s film with the likes of Gere, Cyndi Lauper and Paul Simon amongst an all-star cast that includes many of today’s Yankees stars. There is also a song in production based off “Yankee Miracles,” recorded by the star of “The Voice” Alessandra Guercio and another aspiring young rapper, Dwight Gooden Jr. Having Dwight Jr. involved brings things full circle again for the Long Island, New York resident, who helped Dwight Sr. through some of his most difficult personal times. “It is all about assisting people when they need it, no matter who they are,” Negron added. “Dwight has done a lot for me, and Dwight Jr. has great talent, so having him involved in the project is amazing.”
Amazing is very appropriate to describe the life and work of a man who came from the streets to the front office of one of sport’s greatest brands; a man who has become a great behind the scenes ambassador for the legacy of an owner who may be gone in body, but will always be part of his beloved Bombers, especially at this time of year.59834