Ray Negron's Playball Weekly Blog

Maria Cooper Janis solidifies My Pride and love of the Yankees

On the 75th birthday of George Steinbrenner, I wondered what do I get a man who you think has everything.

You know that all his multimillionaire friends are going to buy him the most expensive and extravagant gifts.

For weeks I say to myself that anything I get him just won’t be good enough. One night I was watching Turner Classic Movies and a film that I have seen a thousand times came on. The Pride of the Yankees.

How many times had I talked to Mr. Steinbrenner about how much we loved that film. We use to talk about how much we loved Gary Cooper, the three-time academy award-winning actor. We talked about how great Cooper was in the award-winning film High Noon. It was wonderful because it was one true thing that we had in common.

That night I thought carefully about the right gift. It came to me. I went on the internet and ordered two wonderful pictures of Gary Cooper. One of Coop in High Noon and the other in The Pride of the Yankees. Then I called a long-time memorabilia person that I knew and he tracked down an autograph of Cooper for me. I took all of this to my friend and Yankee framer Ken Fagen who did a magnificent job putting it together.

One of my great thrills was giving it to the Boss. He sat down in his office in Tampa and just stared at it for a long time. He went on to explain the scene in the picture. He went on to tell me why only Gary Cooper could play Lou Gehrig. I was really proud of myself that day because I felt I had made the Boss happy. If you really knew him then you know that wasn’t always an easy task. When I was leaving his office his secretary patted me on the back smiled broadly and said good job. She knew I had put the Boss in a good mood.

Yesterday Maria Cooper Janis, Gary Cooper’s daughter came to Yankee Stadium to visit Debbie Tymon, Vice President of Marketing and the long-time boss of all field activities.

They were meeting about some wonderful upcoming events that I’m not at liberty to discuss but will say that it’s gonna be great.

To see Maria walk around Yankee Stadium was fabulous. I literally felt her father and Lou Gehrig come through her. When she stood next to the large picture of Gehrig saying his famed speech was mind-blowing.

Maria is such a humble and kind person that she really downplays the magnitude of who she is.

I am so grateful to Debbie Tymon for how sweet she was to Maria. To listen to these two ladies speaking on such historical topics that surround the Yankees and the World of Gary Cooper was mind-blowing.

When it comes to Maria Cooper Janis, I thank God every day that I can call her and her husband Byron my dear friends.

By the way. Byron Janis happens to be arguably the greatest classical pianist in the world. But I’m sure you knew that.

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