During the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic I've received support support from many young athletes in the New York area to help me locate food and feed people in need.
Many of the local minor and major league players in New York have been simply wonderful. This is because they understand just how blessed they really are.
Some high school and college kids have called me to see how they could help; that really touches my heart because their feelings for those in need is rooted in sincerity.
One of those players was a high school senior, Alex Santos. He lives literally several blocks away from Yankee Stadium and is a graduate of Mount Saint Michael High School.
Because of my Bronx background and Yankee pedigree, people continually seek my assistance in the helping of people in the Bronx.
Last week, I received a call from Adrian Rodriguez, of the Texas Rangers, and his dad, to see if I would talk to Alex who was going to go high in the baseball draft, to possibly give Alex and his dad, Alex Sr., some advice. I said, "Of course."
When we eventually spoke, we did so at the "old" Yankee Stadium.
(Alex Santos: Photo Credit, Ray Negron)
I actually often go there myself often to pray. I told them that we would feel the spirits of Yankees past at that stadium.
It turned out to be a wonderful meeting. We actually at home plate because it was Thurman Munson’s birthday. Both Adrian and his dad shared with me about how much they wanted to be Yankees.
I explained to both of them that, in reality, it’s so hard to predict what will happen in a draft but that if they were drafted by another team he could still end up a Yankee down the road.
A case in point being Gerrit Cole. After we spent a couple of hours talking about Yankee history and my life with the Bronx Bombers, we walked around the park and I showed them where the great moments happened in Yankee history.
Moments like Mickey Mantle’s 500th home run, Reggie’s three home runs during the 1977 World Series, and the spot where Lou Gehrig delivered his famous farewell speech on July 4, 1939, "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."
This kid and his dad are real Yankee fans and I could tell that they couldn’t hear enough about the Yanks. They also loved hearing about the incredible mystique of George Steinbrenner. I really enjoyed myself, walking around the old Stadium with the Santos because they really appreciate the aura and true magic of the Yankees.
Before we said our goodbyes I presented them with my official batboy cap and a copy of my book "Yankee Miracles."
Alex and his dad wanted to know if they could help out with our next food drive and I told them that I would be honored for them to help. The next food drive was at Mount Vernon Boys & Girls Club and Alex and his dad, along with Adrian from the Rangers and his dad, were the first ones there.
The players really worked hard; I can honestly say that the people were happy to meet them and very happy for the food.
One of the players asked if the Yankees always help the community this way.
I told them that as long as the team was owned by a Steinbrenner it has been this way.
On draft day, Alex and his family got together in front of the television and waited for their moment. With their pick in the second round of the draft, the Houston Astros selected Alex Santos.
Everyone screamed with joy and happiness. Tears streamed down the cheeks of father and son. The first phase of an incredible journey and dream is complete.
Being the father of a drafted son myself I truly appreciated the feelings they were experiencing.
I was drafted in the second round by the Pirates in 1975 but I have to tell you, as a parent I enjoyed seeing my son drafted much more. Like Adrien Rodriguez, Alex Santos is a very special young man. His parents did a wonderful job raising him. When they asked me for one bit of advice I said that I would tell them what George Steinbrenner told me at the same stage— "Don’t forget your people, don’t ever forget where you come from and never be afraid to extend your hand to those in need."
I wish Alex and his family God’s blessings. Please enjoy the ride because time goes fast.
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." Read Ray Negron's Reports — More Here.
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