Tampa – In the summer of 2005, I took a young rookie by the name of Robinson Cano to the Hackensack University Medical Center. I was there visiting an old friend David Jurist. David and his good friend Don Imus support the “Tomorrow Children’s Fund.”
I remember taking Cano room-to-room visiting all the kids. For one day those children forgot that they were suffering from such a horrific disease. Cano was not afraid to engage mentally, physically and spiritually with all the children. At one point while walking around the building we lost Cano. When we backtracked we found him in a room with a little Spanish boy.
They were speaking their native language and the little boy cried because he got to meet the newest Yankee hero. Cano hugged the boy and shared tears of joy rather than tears of sadness. Cano always understood that the spirits of Ruth and Gehrig always surrounded the Yankees and he was told early on about the magic of Yankees greats whenever they visited children of hospitals around the world.
Today, I ran into Robbie Cano at the World Baseball Classic practice session in Bradenton Florida where the Dominican National team is headquartered. I was thrilled to see that Cano was happy to see me.
As always, Cano’s first question was”how is David Jurist and the people at Hackensack?” Jurist and the hospital honored Cano during his Yankee tenure with the “Robinson Cano Pediatric Rehabilitation Center.” So, naturally, even though he visits many hospitals Hackensack is extremely close to his heart.
His second question was, “How is Gary Sanchez doing?” He mentioned of the great respect he has for this youngsters ability He talked about the fact that New York is very lucky to have a young player that will hopefully lead this team for a long time.
Cano asked, “How this youngster and his community involvement was developing?” He added, did I teach Sanchez yet about the incredible Yankees spirits that surround many of these players in the Bronx?
Robinson Cano was the hero in my first book “The Boy of Steel” and he was already giving me ideas for a new book with a new hero. Hopefully that hero will be Gary Sanchez in the very near future.
Robinson asked if I would put together a trip to Hackensack Medical Center so that he could introduce Gary Sanchez to the children there when the Seattle Mariners come into town.
I was thrilled to hear this come out of his mouth and I was more excited that Robinson had not forgotten the fact that kids everywhere need the support of their heroes.
If you ever get a chance to watch the movie “The Pride of the Yankees” look for the part where Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig visit the little boy in the hospital. This is where the tradition started and through the magic and spirits of Yankees past, the tradition will always be handed to the Yankees of today.
You can listen to the Robinson Cano interview with Ray on ESPN 1050 Saturday and Sunday from 12-2pm. Ray can also be read on Newsmax.