By Ray Negron
The Yankees held their annual welcome home dinner at the New York Hilton on Sixth Avenue in midtown. I received several phone calls from friends that attended the affair and they reported it was a truly memorable event. Charlie Santoro of the YES network could not stop telling me that Derek Jeter was effusive in his praise of the Yankee organization.
It was great to hear that Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal talked about her dad and how much he cared about Derek Jeter and the fact that Jeter had always been so respectful of the Boss. It was wonderful that the Yankees recognized the Boss’s great press agent Howard Rubenstein. Howard has always been one of the classiest individuals associated with the New York Yankees and has been my friend for countless years.
But the thing that made me most happy was when I received phone calls from Dan Quintero, the head of the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club to tell me about how proud he was of a young lady — Margaret Rodriguez — a student of his club, who was selected as student of the year. He told me that she was a remarkable story and suggested I write a story on her. He asked that I call his assistant at the club, Harold Maldonado, so that he could provide the specifics because Harold was present and Dan was not.
When I reached Harold, he was so elated, and reported that it was one of the great events he had ever attended. He told me how classy everyone was at the event. At that point, he had Margaret Rodriguez call me and to say that she was excited is an understatement. Margaret told me how amazed she was at attending such an incredible function.
She couldn’t believe she spoke before an audience that included Derek Jeter and her other heroes, including C.C. Sabathia. It was an incredible feeling. When she finished her speech, Derek came up to her and said she was wonderful.
Jenny Steinbrenner really made it memorable for her. She told Margaret that her story was something special and that she should always share it. Margaret couldn’t stop staring at Jenny’s necklace. It was absolutely beautiful and extremely classy. Derek Jeter’s dad, Charles, had actually come up to Margaret and told her to make sure that she made this her night. He is truly a very nice man.
I have met Margaret Rodriguez quite a few times at the club and understand why she was chosen. She is truly a leader and Harold Maldonado told me that her academic achievements are superior and her participation at the club is unique. She is someone that everyone wants to follow. She told me that the club means the world to her.
I asked her when she is finished with her education what she wants to do with her life. She told me that she would love to become a developmental psychologist. I asked her why and she told me that she needs to find out why people go so many different ways in life and, with her education, she may be able to help them.
She told me that the Yankees have always been her team and C.C. Sabathia inspires her. He had been to the Boys and Girls Club quite a few times. She also told me that Derek Jeter is her favorite player because he is so handsome.
Margaret concluded by telling me that “this night will stay with me forever.”
Ray Negron is a community consultant with the Yankees. In addition he is a noted author and film producer. Ray also writes a column for Newsmax and Newyorksportsday.com and can he heard weekends, Saturday and Sunday 12-12pm on ESPN 1050 Deportes as a co host of Impact with Felix DeJesus.