Going into my 45th season in baseball I need to thank the New York Yankees for all the support through the years. The Yankees have been this Puerto Rican and Cuban boy second family. When things were tough at home I always had the option of staying at my second home Yankee Stadium.
I would either sleep in the trainers room in the clubhouse or on the outfield during a nice night. I remember sometimes having these sleepovers with the Cucuzza boys. Today Rob and Lou Cucuzza are the equipment managers at Yankee Stadium.
Mr. Steinbrenner first suggested that I stay at the stadium so that I wouldn’t be on the subways late at night, traveling all the way back to Queens. The Boss was very good to all the bat boys. In those days he was closer to us because there were less of us.
Today there are dozens of kids working the clubhouse. I consider this a good thing because who wouldn’t want to work for the Yankees. When I go to speak to different schools around the city the first question is how can they they get a job at Yankee Stadium?
Today it’s great to see that young people both male and female still have such an interest in the New York Yankees. It’s beautiful to see how the organization gets so involved in the community the way they do.
Understand that I take this very personal because some of these food drives at the stadium have actually fed some of my family members that I have living in the Bronx. When Mr. Steinbrenner passed away in 2010, I was afraid that the organization would slack off in their efforts with community relations.
However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything it’s more than increased. The incredible food and toy drives conducted at Yankee Stadium would really make The Boss very proud. No one except his family and very close friends will ever understand how important this was to him or how important Christmas was to him.
Today I celebrate the first Christmas without my beloved parents. It’s a very difficult time for me and my family. I need to thank Hank and Hal, Jenny and Jessica Steinbrenner, Randy Levine and Brian Cashman and Lon Trost for their continuous support.
Debbie Tyman and Debbie Nicolosi, what you guys do behind the scenes with your crew is incredible. Brian Smith and Rocky Balsey who heads the community relations program, you guys are tireless in all your efforts in the Bronx.
I am very lucky to be associated with such a fabled organization. I need to thank the Yankees for the beautiful flowers that you sent both my Mom and Dad when they passed away last month. They loved The Boss and they loved the Yankees for giving their son direction in life.
You didn’t know my parents but they were very grateful. In their honor I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a great 2017 season.