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Baseball Grooms Youth For Greatness

Baseball Grooms Youth For Greatness
Errol Toulon with Ray Negron. (Rsy Negron)  

By Tuesday, 12 December 2017 04:48 PM Current | Bio | Archive

During my years as a Yankee batboy I got to meet and work with a lot of kids who were very proud of putting on Yankee pinstripes. As batboys they were made to feel like they were part of a team. The harder these kids worked, the more the players on the Yankees made you really feel at home.

We had youth of all types — black, white, Latin, skinny, fat, rich, poor; some had even been gang members, but the Yankees had no idea. Some of the players knew but said that as long as the particular individuals stayed cool they were okay with it. One security officer even went so far as to tell George Steinbrenner about one of the kids. The boss asked the officer if the kid had done anything wrong while working for the Yankees and the officer said "No" and Steinbrenner told him to mind his own business.

A lot of those batboys, I'm proud to say, went on to do great things with their lives. One batboy, Thad Mumford, went to Hollywood to become an award winning writer for the famous TV series "Mash." Another, Seth Herbst, would become one of the biggest gynecologists in America. Hector Pagan would become one of the most celebrated DEA agents in America. The list goes on and on and the Yankees aren't even aware of the incredible foundations that they have created for so many of these kids. I know that I have a life today and can be proud of my kids today because of my first job in life, that as a Yankee batboy.

Another one of these batboys was a kid that I would meet in 1979. His name was Errol Toulon. Errol was an African American kid from right there in the Bronx, New York.

For a batboy, Errol looked more like a baseball player then any batboy I had ever seen. Plus he had a nice Afro hairdo. (Not as nice as mine, but nice nonetheless.)

Errol Toulon also loved to put on his uniform, just staring at himself in the mirror. He never knew, but I use to tell Thurman Munson that he was staring at himself again. Thurman would say — "looking good kid," with a big smile. Errol never knew that we were teasing him. Thurman always was close with the batboys. I recall him always patting Errol on the back.

Unfortunately, Thurman would die that August 2nd but would leave a wonderful impression that Errol still carries with him to this day. Bobby Murcer also made a big impression on Errol. Years later, when Errol would battle cancer, Bobby would reach out to try to encourage him to keep fighting. (It's ironic that Bobby would die of cancer a few years later.) I asked Errol which Yankee touched him the most and he replied, "Willie Randolph."

I asked him why and he said that because they were closer in age they probably talked more as well as having more in common. When Errol went to college he always wore Willies number (30) on his baseball uniform.

When Errol finished school, he worked as corrections officer at Rikers Island for 25 years. He retired and moved to Long Island, then started a whole new career.

My son, Jon-Erik Negron, is a police officer and union delegate for the Suffolk County Police Department. As a teenager he was a batboy for the Cleveland Indians. During the recent elections he asked me if I knew someone named Errol Toulon. I told him that if it's the same guy then he used to be a Yankee batboy.

Yesterday it was announced, after a close race, that Errol Toulon will be Suffolk County’s new sheriff. (When someone overheard that he was a batboy during the Jackson Munson era, they said that if the public knew this during the election then Errol would have won by a landslide. Everyone laughed.)

Errol has become Long Island’s first African American non-judicial, countywide, elected official. After the results were announced, Errol said, "Clearly voters heard my message of what I want to bring to the sheriff’s office."

He added, "I hope that any individual, no matter what race, ethnicity or gender, if they pursue their dreams or their goals they can achieve anything they want." Errol looks forward to combating gang violence and the opioid epidemic and introducing a re-entry program for those leaving county jails. The New York Yankees should be proud that this all started at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. It’s beautiful to come to the realization that the batboy has become "Batman."

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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As batboys kids were made to feel like they were part of a team. The harder they worked, the more the players on the Yankees team made you really feel at home.
munson, sheriff, suffolk, toulon
Tuesday, 12 December 2017 04:48 PM
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