For Ray Negron, a chance “meeting” with George Steinbrenner changed the course of his life. In his new book, “Yankee Miracles”, Negron recalls how the encounter, “saved my life.” In return, he’s now trying to help others believe that anything is possible.
Born and bred in the Bronx, the then-17 Negron’s vandalism of the House That Ruth Built – he was spray painting a “NY” logo on a wall at Yankee Stadium — was interrupted by none other than the late Boss himself, who instead of calling the cops, gave the troubled kid a job, and as it turns out, an incredible opportunity.
“Yes, baseball saved me,” said Negron, “The day Mr. Steinbrenner found me, I was with two cousins and two brothers. The two cousins are both dead from drugs and my two brothers have been in and out of prisons most of their lives.”
“Yankee Miracles” pulls no punches and details how given a job as a Yankee bat boy, Negron was embraced by the Yankees. People like Steinbrenner, Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson made a lasting impression on him that “lasts to this day”.
“The three of them had such an effect on me,” Negron said. “Billy was such a good man, a religious man, and he used to tell me ‘Ray, you can do whatever you want to do.’
“He was right.”
Soon after, Negron embarked on an amazing journey that took him to places like being Willie Randolph’s minor league double play partner, acting in Francis Ford Coppola’s Cotton Club and later, working as a player agent and confidant to people like Roberto Alomar, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden.
I first met Ray when he released his first book, the award-winning “The Boy Of Steel“, which was published six years ago. Since then, Negron has released “The Greatest Story Never Told – The Babe and Jackie” and “One Last Time – Good-Bye To Yankee Stadium”. Each of this powerfully written book, all written for children, were part of Negron’s continuing effort to pay forward the kindness — and opportunity — given to him by the Yankees.
He’s appeared in the pages of Gotham Baseball magazine, as well as on the show I used to host at the since-closed Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant , so when I was first sent the book “Yankee Miracles”, I wasn’t really sure I needed to read it. I’d interviewed Ray several times, so what what would be in the book that I didn’t already know?
A lot, as it turns out.
The book is a great read, and an inspiring one as well. For years, Negron has made dozens of charities a priority in his life, and a portion of the proceeds of “Yanke Miracles” are going to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as other charities for Cancer research.
“We’re here for a very short time, and what you do with that time is important,” Negron said. “Especially when you have kids, you have to do what you do for the betterment of mankind. It’s not like I’m a rich guy or anything like that, I came in with nothing, and I’m going to leave with nothing.”
“I (just) want to know when I’m nearing the end, that I can have peace with myself, so when I meet my Maker, I can half at least half-way decent standing with him, know what I mean?”
Yes, Ray, we do. And after reading “Yankee Miracles”, everyone else will too.