During my years as a Yankee batboy I got to meet and work with a lot of kids that were very proud to put on the Yankee pinstripes. As batboys we were made to feel like a part of the team by most of the players. The harder we worked, the more the players made us really feel at home. We had kids of all types, black, white, Latin, skinny, fat, rich, poor, some had even been gang members but the Yankees had no idea. Some of the players knew but said that as long as they stayed cool and out of trouble, they were ok with it. One security officer even went so far as to tell George Steinbrenner about one of the kids. The boss asked the officer if the kid had done anything wrong while working for the Yankees and the officer said “no” and the Boss told him to mind his own business.
A lot of these batboys, I’m proud to say, went on to do great things with their lives. One batboy, Thad Mumford, went to Hollywood to become an award winning writer for the famous TV Series called Mash. Another, Seth Herbst, would become one of the biggest gynecologist in America. Hector Pagan would become one of the most celebrated DEA agents in America. Joe D’Ambrosio would go on to work with some of the biggest acts in music including the Eagles. And then there’s John Blundell, who became the head of PR for Major League Baseball.
I mean the list goes on and on and the Yankees aren’t even aware of the incredible foundations that they had created for so many of these kids. I know that I have the life that I have today and can be proud of my kids because of the first job in my life- a Yankee Batboy.
Another one of these batboys was a kid that I would meet in 1979 by the name of Errol Toulon. Errol was an African American kid from the Bronx. Errol looked more like a baseball player then any batboy that I had ever seen. Plus he had a nice Afro hairdo. (Not as nice as mine but nice.) He also loved to put on his uniform and just stare at himself in the mirror. He never knew it but I use to tell Thurman Munson that he was staring at himself again and Thurman would say –looking good kid with a big smile and Errol never knew that we were teasing him. Thurman was always close to the batboys and I remember him always patting Errol on the back. Unfortunately, Thurman died that August 2nd but would leave a wonderful impression that Errol would carry with him to this day. Bobby Murcer also made a big impression on Errol and years later when Errol would battle Cancer, Bobby would reach out to try to encourage him to keep fighting. (It’s ironic that Bobby would die of cancer a few years later.) I asked Errol which Yankee touched him the most and he said,” Willie Randolph.” I asked him why and he said that because they were closer in age they probably talked more as well as having more in common. When Errol went to college he always wore Willies number, 30, on his baseball uniform.
When Errol finished school, he worked twenty five years as a corrections officer at Rikers Island. He retired, moved to Long Island and started a whole new career.
My son, Jon- Erik Negron, is a police officer and union delegate for the Suffolk County Police Department. As a teenager he was a batboy for the Cleveland Indians. During the recent elections he asked me if I knew someone named Errol Toulon. I told him that if it’s the same guy that I’m thinking of then he used to be a Yankee Batboy.
Yesterday it was announced, after a close race, that Errol Toulon will be Suffolk County’s new sheriff. (When someone overheard that he was a batboy during the Jackson/ Munson era, they said that if the public knew this during the election then Errol would have won by a landslide. Everyone laughed.) Errol has become Long Island’s first African American non judicial countywide elected official. After the results were announced, Errol said.”Clearly voters heard my message of what I want to bring to the sheriff’s office.” “ I hope that any individual, no matter what race, ethnicity or gender, if they pursue their dreams or their goals they can achieve anything they want.” Errol looks forward to combating gang violence and the opioid epidemic and introducing a re-entry program for those leaving county jails. The New York Yankees should be proud that this all started at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, it’s beautiful to come to the realization that the batboy has become BATMAN.