Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner and memories of Yankee Stadium are the focus of team adviser Ray Negron's latest illustrated children's book, released this week. Steinbrenner is depicted in an illustration wearing his familiar white turtleneck and navy blue sport coat and giving a thumbs up sign with his hand on the shoulder of a batboy on the cover of "One Last Time: Good-Bye to Yankee Stadium." "If it wasn't for that ballpark and George, I don't even know that I'd be alive today," Negron told the New York Times in an article about the book. "So, I can honestly say that ballpark and that man saved my life. That's what this book is all about."
Steinbrenner, 78, has slowed down in recent years, ceding day-to-day control of the franchise to his sons, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner. He remains the club's principal owner and chairperson and last month visited the Yankees at the Spring Training facility in Tampa, Fla., that bears his name. Negron's life with the Yankees started on a day in 1973 when he was caught spray-painting the team's famed "NY" insignia onto the outside wall of Yankee Stadium. After being plucked by Steinbrenner and put to work, Negron climbed up the baseball ladder, serving as a batboy in the late 1970s. He was a second-round Draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Minor Leaguer before working for the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers as team counselor. Negron currently works for the Yankees as a personal consultant to Steinbrenner and also serves as director of community relations for the equipment company Spalding. Negron's three best-selling children's books, all published by HarperCollins, have been combined into one film script, "Keeper of the Pinstripes." "I feel the books and the movie are something kids can really relate to and love," Negron told MLB.com in December. "That's the key here. That's the importance of it. I don't want anybody ever to forget the real Yankee Stadium. "The new one is going to be wonderful for the next generation, but at the same time, the spirits of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Thurman Munson and Bobby Murcer, I don't want them to ever forget that."
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.