Yankees Honored at Bronx Eatery, “HolaEspaña”

Howard Goldin

The Spanish language media has been a strong force disseminating information regarding the sport of MLB to an important and growing segment of baseball’s fan base throughout the Americas. On Tuesday afternoon, “El Mundo de lasGrandesLigas” continued its tradition of saluting players of Hispanic heritage who play on the Yankees and Mets.

HolaEspaña, a fine restaurant, located on 231st Street and Broadway, which specializes in cuisine from Spain, was the site for the luncheon. The two experienced and very able emcees, Felix de Jesus and SadielLebrón, began by graciously welcoming each of the media members who came to cover the event. They also gave thanks to the sponsors of the luncheon, HolaEspaña, Riverside Radio Dispatch, WFAN, Ron Barceló and the Canelo-Lara fight scheduled on July 12 at the MGM Grand.

To accommodate the non-Spanish speakers in the eatery, the emcees considerately introduced the Yankees in English and Spanish.

Each of the three Yankee guests, young relievers Dellin Betances and Jose Ramirez and veteran bench coach Tony Peña, like a sizeable percentage of current major leaguers, is of Dominican heritage. The youngest, Ramirez, was born in 1990 in the Dominican Republic. He was drafted by the Yanks as a non-drafted free agent in 2007. He made his big league debut on June 4. Ramirez started 96 of his 105 games in the minors prior to this year. His eight appearances for the Yankees were all in relief. He received unwelcome news when he returned to Yankee Stadium as he was sent to Triple A Scranton/WB that afternoon.

Betances, 26, was also groomed as a starting pitcher in the minors, but has made a comfortable home for himself in the Yankee bullpen this season. The 6-8 hurler was born in Washington Heights, but grew up in Brooklyn. He was drafted by the Yanks in the year he graduated from Grand Street High School, 2006. He pitched very briefly for the Yanks in 2011 and 2013, but his success this year has earned him repeated mentions as a possible All-Star later in July.

Ray Negron, who joined the Yankees as a batboy in 1973, has forged a strong connection between the organization and the community in his years with the Yankees. He attended the event to support the young Yankees. In the course of his introduction, it was mentioned that an animated movie he produced “Henry and Me” will open on August 18 at the Ziegfeld Theater. The movie focuses on the importance of its main character Louis Henry Gehrig. Negron tied the similarity between the legendary Yankee who was born in New York City and one of the most recent Yankee successes, Betances, who he described thusly, “You have to honor a New York boy. He has represented the kids in New York City like no one else I’ve seen.”

Dominican native Peña is a baseball lifer. He has earned his living in organized baseball for the past 38 of his 57 years of life. The five-time All-Star catcher has been a minor and major league coach and manager since his playing career concluded. He was American League Manager of the Year with Kansas City in 2003 and manager of the WBC champs, Dominican Republic.

Peña had a very busy Tuesday. He was the subject of the monthly Spanish language press conference when he returned to the stadium. Interestingly, Joe Girardi was asked about Peña’s importance during the manager’s press conference. He praised his coach profusely, “He’s a great resource. He’s very positive. He has a tremendous knowledge and a tremendous understanding of the game.”

Each of the three guests made brief remarks after being introduced and receiving gifts. They also showed great willingness to pose for photos and sign autographs. These appearances are very beneficial in strengthening the bond between the Yankees and the areas of the city where so many of its fans reside.