Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers

Ray Negron’s Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers, arrives just in time for Major League Baseball’s post season.  A former batboy who now serves as a community advisor for the New York Yankees, Negron narrates the story of how an unlikely set of circumstances led to his initial unfavorable meeting of George Steinbrenner (Owner of the New York Yankees) and his efforts to ingratiate himself with the Boss.  How these two individuals are able to forge a life-long lasting friendship is miraculous in and of itself, considering one was a multimillionaire businessman, and the other a teenager growing up on the hard streets of Brooklyn enduring poverty and crime.  Yet the miracles written about in this book are in no short supply after Negron’s first chapter.

Soon the reader finds themself on board of Negron’s journey of self discovery.  Along the way we experience the ups and downs of an aspiring baseball player as the author shares his experience of trying to break into the big leagues.  We also tune into the plight of so many youths in our society who were born, like Negron, into adverse situations involving abuse, neglect, single parent homes and communities where alcohol and drug addiction are rampant, as he likewise shares experiences from his own childhood.  We see how he is able to find common ground with the Yankee players we have come to recognize as legends of the game, based on troubled beginnings in life and opportunities to make a difference in their neighborhoods.

As a Yankee fan who admittedly only became loyal to the Bronx Bombers when my childhood heroes Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden joined them (up until then I was a Mets fan), I was fascinated by the stories written in this book about all the great Yankee legends that have worn the pinstripes over the years.  These were stories about Yankee greats like Billy Martin, Thurman Munson, Bobby Murcer, Catfish Hunter, Elston Howard, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and others.  Some of these players I had heard of and some I had not heard of before I read this book.  And, of course, there were great stories to read about of more familiar names to me like Reggie Jackson, Joe Girardi, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, and more.

If you’re a baseball fan, you will enjoy this book.  If you’re a Yankee fan, you will treasure this book.  And if you are a fan of the underdog, you will be inspired by this book.  In a world where second chances are sparse, it is refreshing to read a story about a kid who got the mother of all second chances and made the most out of that opportunity; to, in turn, serve his community and offer second chances to others.  And what better time to read it than in October, the month where baseball fans around the world are hoping for miracles both on and off the field.

© 2012

Advertisements

Derek Jeter Hits Home Run for 3,000th Hit!

On Saturday, Derek Jeter joined Major League Baseball’s  exclusive 3,000 hit club passing Roberto Clemente by 3 hits.  For those of you who don’t know, I am a Yankees fan.  My home town of Columbus, OH is where the AAA team of the New York Yankees organization used to be located – The Columbus Clippers.  Darryl Strawberry who was my all-time favorite player as a kid was a Clipper, as was Dwight Gooden, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter.  Since then, the Columbus Clippers have become the Cleveland Indians’ Minor League team, but my love for the Yankees has not wavered.

I had been following Jeter’s quest for 3,000 hits and all seemed to be moving smoothly until he came up with a strained right calf in a game against Cleveland.  Lost in the hectic week that followed, I found myself searching the program guide of my cable provider looking for the next Yankees televised game, hoping I could watch the game in which Jeter would get his 3,000th hit.  I couldn’t miss it!  I didn’t want to have to see history played out on a Sports Center highlight reel.  So when I saw that the Yankees were scheduled to play the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday at 1pm I knew this would be my best chance to see history, with Jeter only 2 hits off his mark.  What I did not know was how special that game would be.

Derek Jeter ended up with 5 at bats and 5 hits.  He also scored 2 runs and 2 RBI’s.  When he stepped up to home plate for his second at bat with 2,999 hits, I sat in my apartment anticipating the crack of  his bat.  David Price delivered the pitch and Jeter hit a solo home run shot into the stands.  The only other MLB player to hit a home run for their 3,000th hit was Wade Boggs on August 7, 1999, ironically as a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

In my mind, Derek Jeter has now not only solidified his legacy as one of the greatest Yankees of all time, having already become the Yankees all time hits leader when he passed Lou Gehrig, but also his legacy as one of the greatest MLB players of all time by passing the 3,000 mark.  (Jeter is also the only player in MLB history to earn all 3,000 hits while wearing a Yankee uniform)  When Pete Rose (AKA Charlie Hustle) bulldozed his way to 3,000 hits playing for the Big Red Machine, he was 37 – the same age as Derek Jeter.  Barring injury, will Jeter surpass the great Pete Rose and become MLB’s all-time hits leader?  If so, I hope that I will have the opportunity to hear the crack of his bat in that game as well.  But going 5 for 5 in Yankee Stadium and getting your 3,000th hit on a homerun will be tough to top as an encore if he finds himself 2-3 hits out of 4,000.  That’s why these are the games baseball fans will be talking about for as long as baseball is played.  These are the games in which legends are born.  The only thing better would have been to actually have been at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, with my dog and beer in hand, to witness it in person – mustard and relish…hold the ketchup please!

© 2011