If you were to ask me who knows the most about the Yankees and baseball in general I would tell you that it’s a person sitting in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium. It’s not a bleacher creature. He listens to the game on his transistor radio. He happens to be blind but sees more of the game then most of us. His love of the Yankees has always inspired me to never give up on our team. He is a nine time Grammy winner for his beautiful work in music.
In 1968, he was the first Latino to perform the National Anthem at the World Series. His love of baseball was such that he sung it with so much soul and I guess many in this country were just not ready. If you see the video of the performance today you see how beautiful it was. He truly is one of America’s jewels. He is Jose Feliciano.
I was at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the Yankees playing the Orioles — a 4 o’clock start. The day before I received a text from Jose Feliciano making sure that I was going to be attending his concert in Patchogue, Long Island.
Baseball games generally run for three hours and the concert was at eight. When I got to the theater his assistant said that Jose was waiting and would not start the show until I had gotten there. Thank God I was only five minutes late! The show started with a five minute film presentation about his career. As I was watching the incredible footage, I was so proud of the fact that this musical genius is actually a true friend of mine.
As I saw him perform with some of the most incredible showmen of all times, my eyes welled up with tears and when I saw him sharing a true moment with another one of my heroes, Frank Sinatra, the tears were rolling down my face and I just didn’t care. He started the show by performing the theme from Chico and the Man. It brought back memories of a great comedian Freddie Prinze. Then he sang Listen to the Falling Rain with such strength and conviction.
Nobody, not even Jim Morrison and the Doors, can do Light My Fire like the great Jose Feliciano. Hit after hit, after hit. Ladies and gentlemen, I must add that Jose is still one of the greatest guitar players of all time. He goes right on the list with Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana and I dare you to put them in order. Jose spoke about his pride in being a Puerto Rican, he spoke about his pride in being a Latino and more importantly he spoke about his pride in being an American. He then broke into a brand-new, incredible song titled, Believe Me When I Tell You, that he wrote for his wife, Susan, and if you know his wife, you would know that he meant every word of that song. His wife is one of my best friends, who has always helped me with my charity throughout the years. Jose is one of the most giving people that you could possibly meet.
He told the audience of about 1,200 that they could all hang out with him after the show and take pictures. Well, after the show the line went around the theater as Jose took pictures with everyone.
When Jose got back to the dressing room he told me that, he liked my article on Newsmax.com and New York Sports Day, that was titled, How do you Mend a Broken Heart. He told me that he was supposed to sing the song in the show and then proceeded to sing it right there in the dressing room and I even sang the closing part of the song with the great Jose Feliciano, one of my all-time idols and friends. I’ve always said that when you meet your heroes and idols, most of the time they break your heart, with Jose, he has only made my heart bigger.
Thank you my friend.