The New York Yankees were supposed to visit P.S. 304 on Tuesday, October 13 but had to cancel to prepare for an American League Championship Series match-up against the Los Angeles Angels. Principal Joseph Nobile and his students understood. But the day was salvaged when former Yankee batboy Ray Negron stopped at the school instead and promised that the Bronx Bombers would swing by after the World Series.
“Go Yankees!” the students shouted.
NY Yankees owner George Steinbrenner made Negron a batboy more than three decades ago, when Negron was busted for tagging graffiti on Yankee Stadium. Negron has authored three popular children’s books about baseball over the least few years. P.S. 304 fourth graders read one of them, The Boy of Steel, ahead of Negron’s visit.
The book, based on an event that Negron witnessed, is inspirational. In the book, second baseman Robinson Cano goes to the hospital to see young Michael Steel, who has brain cancer. Steel gets well and becomes a Yankees batboy, earning the nickname, “The Boy of Steel.” Negron wrote the book when a bedridden boy asked Cano to hit a home run and Cano delivered. Capital One Bank presented another of Negron’s books toeach P.S. 304 fourth graders.
“It was great for the fourth graders to meet an author,” Nobile said. “The students enjoyed hearing how [Negron] developed his books.”
John Cerini of the Throggs Neck Merchants Association and Lenny Caro of the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce arranged for Negron and Yankees mascot, Sultan, to visit the school. The merchants association and chamber plan to collaborate on more events soon. They hope to send students from Throggs Neck schools to a Yankees game in 2010, Cerini said.
Negron praised Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wong for his work in the Bronx and told the students about a Yankees cartoon set to premiere in November. He warned the students not to do graffiti and Kaitlyn Perez, 8, sang a song.
Negron also handed out signed baseballs to students who answered Yankee trivia questions correctly. Tydell Watts, 9, was among the winners. Caro thanked the Yankees and Capital One. The bank also gave away piggy banks.
“Ray Negron opens his heart and his books to the Bronx,” Caro said.
Negron, shrugging, said, “I am happy to pinch hit for the supermen of the Bronx.”