Students of P.S. 304 were visited by an important member of the New York Yankees family, as well as a surprise new member.
The third through fifth grade students were brought into the school auditorium for a special visit by New York Yankees consultant and author Ray Negron on December 21. New York State Senator Jeff Klein was present at the school and introduced Negron to the children himself. Negron, who has been working in baseball for over 30 years, is also the author of three bestselling childrens books about baseball. He spoke to the children about how he became the successful person he is today and told them to never give up on their dreams and to pursue all of their goals as they grow older.
“I am very happy to share my dreams with these students,” said Negron. “I hope that 10 years from now I can see all of these kids and watch them follow through with their own dreams.”
He explained to the children how his first job was as the Yankees bat boy at age 16. The job was given to him by former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who passed away this past July. Steinbrenner caught Negron spray painting the Yankees logo on one of the outside walls of Yankee Stadium in the 1970s. Instead of punishing him, Steinbrenner offered Negron an opportunity. Today, Negron is very close with the Steinbrenner family and is still working with the Yankees organization.
Negron also announced some special news to the school on behalf of the New York Yankees. With him that day was 19-year-old Leonel Vinas from Long Island. On that same day, Vinas was signed to a minor league contract by the Yankees. Vinas was the ace pitcher of the Hank’s Yanks baseball club sponsored by Yankees General Partner Hank Steinbrenner. Once Negron revealed the news to the students and faculty, Vinas stood in front of the audience and received a loud ovation. According to Vinas, he had never been so excited.
“This is the biggest day of my life,” said Vinas. “As a baseball player you can’t help but wish to play for the Yankees. It really is a dream come true and it’s unbelievable that I will be playing for the greatest team in baseball and in the whole world.”
Negron wanted the students to realize that if Vinas can have his dream come true then anyone of them can do the same if they try their hardest. He then asked the children who wanted to be a singer. A large majority of children excitedly raised their hands and Negron brought up one girl and one boy to sing in front of the students. After doing an excellent job, Negron rewarded them with a replica version of the New York Yankees 2009 World Series championship ring to keep.
The fifth grade class ended the afternoon by getting on the stage of the auditorium and singing together as their way of saying thank you to Negron and Vinas. They performed their own rendition of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” which they also performed for their school holiday concert on Thursday December 23.