Recently, I received a phone call from sports and entertainment promoter, Larry Davis.
He wanted to let me know that he was doing an event in conjunction with Steiner Sports at Empire Steak House. The two honored guests would be Yankee manager, Aaron Boone, and the rookie sensation, Gleyber Torres.
Whenever Larry has a young player or Latin player at one of his events, he likes to invite me because of my long history with these type of athletes. Sometimes these players don’t have the command of the English language, or they seem to be so young in this type of setting.
When "Travolta," as Larry is known because of how much he looks like John Travolta, said that the young player was Gleyber, I told him that he didn’t need me there because Gleyber is mature beyond his years and his command of the English language improves daily.
Larry asked if I would like to come anyway, so who am I to turn down a free meal.
When I entered the Empire Steak House Larry sat me with Charlie Santoro and some of my friends from the Yes Network. The event started with Aaron Boone talking about the first half of the Yankee season and the terrific personalities that he has in his players.
At that point, Larry came over and brought me to say hello to Gleyber.
This terrific young man greeted me with the kind of respect that would have led you to believe that I was the celebrity. After our pleasantries he said that he didn’t realize that it was going to be such a big event. He asked me if I would be available for him in case he needed a translator.
I laughed and said that I had been watching him do his interviews all season and thought that he has been great. He asked if I would help him anyway in case the line of questioning got tough. I told him I would.
When they finally called Gleyber up to the stage, I stood to the left of him. Far enough not to be a distraction, but close enough so that Gleyber could see me.
When the line of questioning started to originate from the very seasoned interviewer Michael Kay, I have to say this young man could not have responded better.
Gleyber was very complimentary of his teammates and coaches, and extremely respectful of the Yankee brand as a whole. Michael Kay asked Boone if there was another player that Gleyber reminded him of and for the life of me I couldn’t remember who Boone said.
To me there is only one. The great Roberto Alomar.
I have known Roberto Alomar since he was 6 years old and have seen him grow up. Sure it’s easy to make baseball comparisons both offensively and naturally defensively.
However, the one area that they truly have in common is that they both have incredible parents who love them unconditionally. No matter how great their son gets or in the case of Roberto Alomar — got, they will always be their little boy. This will always help to prevent Gleyber’s head from getting big. This is why Alomar’s never did.
I recently had a conversation with Gleyber’s dad that I remember having with Roberto’s father, Sandy, in 1988 just before Robbie’s first season in the big leagues.
Both fathers basically said the same things from the standpoint of parenthood and that is father knows best. When I speak to both Roberto and Gleyber, the respect they have for their parents is beautiful.
I know Robbie Alomar as if he is my brother and his dad, Sandy, has always been a big brother and a true mentor to me. Getting to know Gleyber and his parents this year makes me feel great for the Yankees and their fans because if Gleyber has just half of Robbie Alomar’s career then we Yankee fans are going to be in great shape for years to come.
My very favorite Roberto Alomar story will always be that on his very last day as a major league baseball player. Robbie got a brand new ball and signed it "To the Boss, my only regret was not playing for you. Roberto Alomar."
When I gave the ball to the Boss, he said that this was one of the nicest gestures that a player had ever done. That ball sat on his desk for years. The Boss loved the fact that Robbie understood what it meant to be a Yankee without ever being one. This was something that Robbie learned from his dad, Sandy — who played for the Boss.
In the case of Gleyber, he talks about the Yankees as his family. He understands that even though he is so young, he has a responsibility to lead by example. I have to think that this is what he has learned from his parents and why he is in line to be the next pride of the New York Yankees.
Ray Negron is a sports executive with over 40 years of experience in baseball. His first job came from a chance encounter with George Steinbrenner as a youth. He has become an American film producer, a best-selling author, and a philanthropist. His memoir is entitled, "Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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