Ray Negron's Playball Weekly Blog

Frankie Valli is 90 years old and still a powerhouse and a friend!

It was October 1st of 1976 and I’m sitting in a capacity-packed Madison Square Garden. The man that was bringing the crowd to its feet with every song was Frankie Valli. With every song, the place is going absolutely berserk.

I’m sitting there with my best friend and Yankee batboy Hector Pagan.

Over the course of the last two years, Frankie and the Four Seasons had made a huge comeback in the music industry. Their songs Swearin’ to God and My Eyes Adore You would go to the top of the charts. Their album Close Up was truly a monster hit. It was the first album that I would ever purchase. I remember going to Colony Records on Broadway and 47th Street and getting the last copy that they had.

Even though I loved the commercial hits on the album, the song that I would truly fall in love with was on the B side. It was called… In my eyes… A girl at that time named Carmen Wood would tell me to listen to that song because it is You.

She was so right because the lyrics were so powerful and it was probably the first song that I would know every word to.

There is a part that says … Wish that I were a writer of songs, I’d compose my whole life long.

That would be my inspiration to write my books and articles through the years.

That night at the Garden Frankie and the Four Seasons were so damn great that they were actually brought out for three curtain calls.

To this day I have never seen that.

After the show, I said to my pal Hector that I had to meet Frankie. I was actually acting like one of those Bobby sockser at a Frank Sinatra concert.

I remember Hector saying that Frankie was too big a star and that he would never see you. I said that we would give it a shot.

We worked our way to the dressing room area. A security guard asked if he could help us. I nervously took a deep breath and remembered what Yankees manager Billy Martin always said to me…’ Act like you belong… With that in my mind, I said to the security guard if he could tell Mr. Valli that Ray the Yankees Batboy was there to see him. The guard looked at me as if I had two heads then said wait a minute. I remember Hector saying let’s get out of here before we get in trouble.

All of a sudden the guard came out and said Mr. Valli will see you now. I looked at Hector and we nervously started to giggle because we knew that we got over.

As we walked in we saw Frankie eating a plate of spaghetti. He actually apologized for eating but said that he was starving. He actually took the time to ask what we did for the Yankees and told me that he had met Joe DiMaggio. We talked for a while and I would learn that his hero was Frank Sinatra. What is so incredible about life is that a year later I would meet Frank Sinatra at Patsy’s Italian Restaurant and Mr Sinatra would tell me that Frankie Valli is a great kid.

It was a wonderful experience meeting Frankie for the first time. We actually exchanged contact information and was invited to his many concerts throughout the years. One time he was performing on Broadway and I purchased tickets. When he saw me after the show he asked me where did I get my tickets and I said that I purchased them. He said that he didn’t want me to pay for tickets again.

To this day Frankie does not realize that I have learned a lot from him. I am grateful for the incredible spiritual support and respect that he has always shown.

Frankie and his family and support cast like Dean and Alan have been absolutely amazing.

His musical director Robby Robinson has been my very dear brother from another mother!

This week will mark Frankie’s 90th birthday. I wish I could be in California to celebrate with him however the fact that it is also my Grandson’s (Prince Rowen Hopkins) first birthday makes up for my loss.

I will never forget that the last time I rode with my beloved Yankee Boss George Steinbrenner in his car I checked to see what C. Ds. he listened to…one was Frank Sinatra and the other was Frankie Valli’s greatest hits. I remember Mr. Steinbrenner firmly asking,,, You have a problem with that ?! I laughed and said No!

The last time I saw Frankie was this past November at his show in Westbury N. Y. I was sitting in his dressing room with him and he looked me in the eyes and said, Ray how are you?

Coming from a man that I have such respect for has always meant the world to me and I am forever grateful for the wonderful friendship.

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