Ray Negron's Playball Weekly Blog

Negron: Nelson Cruz an All-Star in Every Way

The last time that I attended an all-star game was in 1977. The players at that time were named Reggie and Munson and Johnny Bench and Tom Seaver and the all-time hit leader, Pete Rose. It really was a galaxy of all-stars.

This year the all-star game was going through a revamp. The names now are Harper and Judge and Cano (who was the MVP for getting the game winning HR) and Sano and Giancarlo etc. Nice names that in the near future will make baseball really great again.

My favorite name of all happens to be Nelson Cruz, the outfielder for the Seattle Marines. The reason is not because he happens to be one of the great power hitters in the game (even though he is.) It’s because he is one of the great gentleman in sports. He really cares for thy fellow man. He quietly does a lot for the less privileged throughout all of Latin America.

Even though Nelson is from the Dominican Republic, he has organized campaigns to help other Latin countries with food and medical issues. A couple of years ago, I was thrilled to make a humanitarian presentation to Nelson at the United Nations. As always, Nelson was truly very humble in his acceptance.

A person that has quietly been one of the great humanitarians throughout my forty four years in sports is the former Mariners catcher and presently the broadcaster for the MLB network Dave Valle. I asked Dave what his opinion was of the humanitarian efforts of Cruz and Valle said, “He is wonderful. What he has done and what he can do for his country is overwhelming.”

Dave Valle would know a thing or two about helping in the Dominican Republic. Dave heads one of the Dominicans biggest charities, called Esperanza. They have helped to build schools, create jobs, and create businesses.

You have to wonder how a person becomes such a terrific individual and it doesn’t surprise me that Nelson has two of the greatest parents a person could have. I’m sure it helps that they are both teachers in the Dominican.

The highlight of the all-star game for me was when Nelson came to bat. Nelson asked the catcher, Molina if he would take a picture of the umpire, Joe West, and himself. I asked Nelson why he wanted a picture since he is a person that never makes waves or brings attention to himself, and he said that he wanted to honor the retiring umpire for a job really well done.

At the after party, he gave the attention to my son, Ricky, who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves. He joked with Ricky that he should have been a Yankee.

Former Yankee Robinson Cano had only one thing to say about Nelson Cruz, “The Greatest!” I have to agree.

Diamond Dust

A special congratulations to the Yankees contingent at the game. They were very classy in how they went about their business.  You could tell that other players noticed how special it truly is to be a Yankee in an all-star game or in a World Series.

I must add that yes, Aaron Judge is all that and can hit a baseball a long way, but more importantly he really is a very nice young man and I hope that all the attention that he is getting and will continue to get does not overwhelm him to the point that he shuts himself off from the fans like other big time Yankee stars of the past.

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