Ray Negron's Playball Weekly Blog

Omar Minaya understands the honor of being a Yankee

In spring training of 1982 baseball’s first Latin General manager Omar Minaya went to Fort Lauderdale and put on a Yankee Uniform. He was there at the Yanks Spring camp as a player on the Bronx Bombers.
However, it wasn’t the real team. Omar was there to shoot a commercial for Cannon Camera. The commercial starred then-Yanks all-star second baseman Willie Randolph.

I was the commercial coordinator for Grey Advertising and when they asked me to hire a catcher for the commercial it gave me a chance to bring in my childhood friend and a guy that had pro ball experience.

I will never forget walking Omar into the Yank’s locker room and introducing him to Willie. That was a beautiful moment because Omar really looked up to Willie. The thing that really got to me was when I handed Omar the Yankees uniform. He literally put on the shirt right over the shirt that he had on. The smile on Omar’s face told the whole story. It was like watching the movie the Pride of the Yankees… the scene when Lou Gehrig is looking at himself in the mirror as he puts on a Yanks cap for the first time.

If you ever get a chance check out the Willie Randolph, Cannon Camera commercial on YouTube so that you can see Omar’s performance. I remember having to remind Omar that this was only a commercial, not real life. Willie laughed like crazy because the last scene was a play at the plate between Willie and Omar. When Omar put down the tag on Willie and the umpire yelled out safe, Omar jumped up and argued with the umpire. I had to laugh because that was not in the script but it looked so real that it was kept in the spot.

41 years later this baseball pioneer has come full circle. He is now a special assistant to the Yankee organization. Knowing Omar the way I do I can tell that he is really enjoying baseball again the way he did all those years ago. He has always had a wonderful respect and relationship with Yanks General Manager Brian Cashman. Omar always loved seeing George Steinbrenner through the years. He has a great fondness for Hal Steinbrenner and the Steinbrenner family and loves the great intensity and passion that Yanks team President Randy Levine has for the organization.

Today I asked Omar what was his favorite part of being with the Yankees and he said the incredible history and after so many years of being in the game that I can still feel such excitement in being with the Yankees. He also loves being able to teach and learn from all the young people in the organization.

I once said that after one of my heroes, the great Yanks baseball advisor Gene Michael died that we could never replace him. Well, I still say no one ever will but it sure is a nice feeling to have an Omar Minaya there.

I think the Stick would agree!

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