Yesterday at Frank Tack Baseball Field, in Clearwater Florida, it was a warm and yet somewhat foggy night. Two teams were battling it out, mostly teenagers and guys in their twenties.
The only exception was 57-year-old Aris Sakellaridis, the oldest guy in the league.
It had been a pretty uneventful game until the 6th inning, when all of a sudden a tall figure was seen walking in from the right field parking lot.
It seemed as if everyone stopped what they were doing to see who the figure was.
It looked like a classic, old picture of the great actor James Dean.
It wasn’t James Dean. It was Yankee Co-Chairman Hank Steinbrenner, who decided to come to the game to see his friend Aris play.
The young players, and for that matter all the players, were blown away that Hank would come down to the field to watch everyday people play baseball. (Aris would respond to that observation by saying that Hank is a regular person who appreciates the good in all.)
After Aris grounded out, Hank grabbed a bat and gave him some proper batting tips.
A portion of that conversation was devoted to Hank, who instructed Aris about proper pitching mechanics — just in case Aris was brought in to pitch.
Joking, Hank said, "I’m taking over and the first thing I’m going to do is change the name of this team from the 'Pandas' to a more masculine name like the 'Bull Frogs.'"
Michael Kelly is the Pandas designated hitter.
As it turned out, he had been a spring training intern for the Yankees.
Now he works for the Yanks class A affiliate, the Tampa Tarpons.
Kelly is the public address announcer during the Tarpons games.
In between "at bats" he spent time with Hank getting advice on steps he should take in order to advance in the world of sports management. Hank could not have been nicer in his advice to this aspiring young man.
He was like a professor instructing and guiding his pupil.
One by one some of the other players and some parents came over to shake Hank’s hand.
As you stand next to this man and listen to him talk about different subjects you realize how much he really has to give to the world.
This morning, I was watching the animated film "Henry & Me."
I had forgotten that Hank was the voice of his father, George Steinbrenner. He may have been the best actor in that film and I must add that the other actors were named Richard Gere, Luis Guzman and two Oscar nominated actors named Danny Aiello and Chazz Palminteri.
I guess he is just like James Dean.
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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