Frankie Valli, Yankees Love-In, Oh, What A Night!

By Ray Negron

Frankie Valli, Yankees Love-In. Oh, What a Night!

Last week, I received a call from Bobby Rossi, who arguably is Florida’s top music promoter and heads all show events at Ruth Eckerd Hall. He told me that Frankie Valli would be performing his 30th show there — an all-time record for any performer at the venue — plus, Valli was going to be honored by the City of Clearwater.

As most people know, Rossi and his family have been long time friends of mine through our mutual love of Bobby Murcer and the New York Yankees. Bobby also knows that Frankie Valli is my all-time favorite musician, singer, performer; whatever you want to call him, he is the man.

Rossi told me that on the record breaking night he wanted to do something special for Frankie.

I asked Rossi what was planned and he told me that he was going to have Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos give Frankie the key to the city and that a street outside of Eckerd Hall would be named Frankie Valli Alley.”

Rossi, knowing my passion for Frankie and his band members, asked me what gift we could give to Frankie. That’s a thought one because what do you give a man that you think has everything? So I asked my friend Aris, a retired corrections officer. Aris asked me who Frankie’s hero outside of music was and I told him, Joe DiMagg io. Within 24 hours, Aris came up with a real flannel Joe DiMaggio shirt. (How did he do it I have no idea.)

Rossi and I agreed that the presenter had to be special because we wanted to do this on stage and we wanted to really surprise the audience and it was important for Frankie to really love it. I spoke to Frankie’s musical director, Robby Robinson, for some ideas.

Finally, I asked myself, what is it that I love the most about Frankie Valli? His class and his dignity, the way Frankie loves and is loved. With that being said I immediately thought of Ron Guidry and Willie Randolph. They are what class and respect are all about, they were loved by their teammates and George Steinbrenner thought so much of them that he made them co-captains.

When I went to them individually to ask if they would do it, they responded almost as if they were scripted, “Are you kidding, I love Frankie,” Guidry said. Willie Randolph said, “I grew up on Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, I would be honored.

Well, the night could not have gone any better, with the exception of Craig Pilo, Frankie’s drummer, who wore a Boston Red Sox cap. I decided to embarrass him in front of the audience of predominantly Yankee fans by telling him that he had to remove that cap. Frankie and the crowd agreed — so off went the cap as the audience roared. Mayor Cretekos gave Frankie the key to the City. I introduced Willie and Ron to the totally sold out arena. It was quite touching to hear Guidry and Willie tell Frankie how much they loved him and his music. Knowing Frankie as long as I have, I thought that he was really moved by these two Yankee icons sharing the love.

The Ruth Eckerd Hall audience just couldn’t get enough of the love that that was being given to a man that is so deserving, Frankie Valli. It was also so beautiful that the love of the Yankees helped make the night that much better. After the show, the party moved back stage. By the way, I didn’t know that Ron and Willie could dance like they did that night.

In the immortal words of Frankie Valli: “Oh What a Night”

Additionally, Ray can be heard Saturday and Sunday on IMPACT on ESPN Radio 1050am talking baseball and entertainment. His writes a weekly column for NY Sports Day, Newsmax and Baseball America. For more information about Ray please check out his website Bat Boy Helps.

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