I’d Rather be a Yankee Than President of the United States
by Ray Negron (NY Yankees Executive, Best-Selling Author, Producer, and Motivational Speaker)
Editor's Note - This article ran on the nyctastemakers.com site and was shared with our Editor-in-Chef from Ray Negron. It is being shared with permission.
Here is a link to the original article.
Billy Martin was truly a surrogate father to me. He was there for me during very difficult times. He used to love to share stories about his son and how proud he was of Billy Junior.
The first time Billy was fired we sat together in his New Jersey apartment and through his tears, Billy said that it hurt so much because he would rather be a Yankee than a President or a King.
I knew what he meant but never really accepted those words until I heard Yankee team President Randy Levine say the same thing after he was offered a very powerful position in Washington by a past President.
The passion that Billy always had being a Yankee I have only seen two other times in my 49 years in baseball and around the Yankees Universe.
Naturally, George Steinbrenner lived and breathed it every day that he owned his Mona Lisa (The Yankees).
Billy would help me all the time during a very formative time of my life in many ways.
He did that for many.
The Boss was incredible because he could be scary yet there was nothing that he wouldn’t do for anyone in need.
Randy has a reputation in sports for being a very tough individual yet on so many occasions I have seen him reach out to doctors because people that he didn’t even know may have been dealing with some form of cancer.
I was always fascinated at the fact that these three men had such pride and passion in the work that they put into running the Yanks. The fire and powerful energy. How almost every effort was in making the team better. How they could erupt like a volcano at any moment, yet give you a hug and a smile the next.
In 1973 there was a young college student (Brooklyn College) by the name of Howard Kellman. Howard sent the boss a letter about his dream of being a sportscaster. There was something in the letter that just hit Mr. Steinbrenner in a certain way. I don’t know what it was except that it touched his heart. The Boss invited Howard to Yankee Stadium and allowed Howard to go into one of the empty broadcast booths next to the one that was being used by Yank’s broadcasters Phil Rizzuto, Bill White, and Frank Messer.
Howard got to practice and improve his announcing skills and at the same time, this also helped Howard with his confidence.
Howard would strike a long and extremely respectful relationship with Mr. Steinbrenner.
In 1974 Howard would impress and get the position of the play-by-play broadcaster for the Indianapolis Indians. Today they are the triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After the Boss died in 2010 Howard would meet Randy Levine. After learning Howard’s story Randy would invite Howard to Yankee Stadium and continue the respectful relationship, just like the one that Howard had with the Boss.
Even though Howard has been announcing baseball games in Indianapolis for over 40 years he still hadn’t realized his dream of doing a major league game.
This year-long time Yanks legendary broadcaster John Sterling cut back on some of his road games so it was worked out that Howard would get to do the play-by-play of a Yankees Tampa Bay Rays game.
I found this to be so appropriate because the Boss would be so happy that one of his protégés was getting this much-deserved opportunity.
At the same time, I knew that Randy Levine was right there helping to make this dream come true.
Mickey Mantle once said that he would go through a wall for his manager Ralph Houk. Howard once told me that he would go through a wall for The Boss and Randy Levine as long as the wall was padded.
The Boss like Billy Martin never ever forgot us little guys and Howard and I are forever grateful that Randy continues that same tradition.