Friday, March 31, 2017

Dumb Criminals: Yankee Stadium Bank Bandit Didn’t Get Far

Dumb Criminals: Yankee Stadium Bank Bandit Didn’t Get Far: By Robert Press BRONX - If you’re going to rob a bank don’t do it in the shadow of a cultural icon which is protected by a small army...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Hoping Lightning Strikes for NBA Dreams

By Rich Mancuso

SPORTS- Inside the front lobby of the Justice Sonia Sotomayor Community Center in the Rosedale section of the Bronx, Willie Negron waits patiently with a net of basketballs and some uniforms and energy drinks. He is the owner, GM and coach of a semi-pro basketball team that carries a lot of responsibility.

“I am carrying out a commitment to my late brother,” Negron explains about his New York Lightning semi pro team that participates in the Elite Basketball League. The team is dedicated to the memory of Willie’s brother Robert “Surrob” Negron, who passed away in 2010 and also to Lightning player Paul Flowers who passed away in the past year.

For Negron, a school aide by day and employed by the NYC Department of Education at nearby James Monroe High School, basketball is everything and so was his brother. So it was appropriate that he lived the dream. You can also see Negron attending various high school basketball games and at courtside for home games at Fordham University, Lehman College and Manhattan College.

Yes, it is his love but the Lightning is his first bolt that provides strength and gives players another, and perhaps final opportunity at stardom in the NBA or other professional basketball leagues around the globe.

Thursday night the Sotomayor center was reserved for Negron. His roster is comprised of former high school and college talent and they travel extensive miles from the tri-state area. Negron pays fees to the Elite league and for practice time at Fordham and other courts when available and there is no funding except for selling of candy.

There is a student trainer he recruits for games that will tend to an injury or two and of course  Negron has a fee to pay licensed officials.  A mission to get a permanent home court at the Fordham Rose Hill Gym, or the Lehman Apex Center is the final bolt that Negron is trying to achieve for the Lightning.

In the meantime they continue and play organized league games. The crowd is minimal, there are no admission fees to watch the Lightning and information is distributed to the website

On this night as his guys suited up for their game against Bronx Holy Storm, Negron was giving last minute directions. There is no game plan because practices are limited but these are basketball players and they know the game.  

“I love the game, Love Willie the passion and commitment,” said Andre Martin. The 6 Ft. guard at 26-years of age played college ball at FIT in Manhattan and is employed as a teacher for kids with special needs at a Bronx school.  He is aware that the Lightning is  one last opportunity as time marches on.

There are so many opportunities that are limited in the game.  The Lightning offers that chance and Martin has that philosophy to continue until the body says no more. Of course, Negron is there to assist players with his numerous contacts in the game that include scouts and personnel from professional leagues.

But the goal is to keep this team running and afloat so that more like Martin get that opportunity to continue.

Martin would score 20 points and Tyrone Mitchell, a 6-2 guard from Mount Vernon also scored 20. There was no game clock or dressing facilities and the guys ran the ball as the final and unofficial seconds clicked down before the Lightning came away with a tight 81-78 win.

During timeouts, Negron sat in a chair or kneeled down to provide some direction and no plays were devised. It was basketball and his players enjoyed their time on the court and all got playing time.

“Never stop living the dream,” said Anthony Baker a point guard from the Bronx. And for Willie Negron and the New York Lightning that puts it all in perspective about continuing a quest no matter now long or difficult the task.

After those final seconds clicked off the clock there was no time to celebrate. Without a proper home court setting, the staff quickly took away the chairs at courtside and dimmed the lights. It was time to go home as Negron discussed the outcome with some of his players and digested a bad call that almost cost his team. The players scattered to their homes in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and most by mass transit.

“It’s all about the effort and a good cause,” said Negron. The next home game for the New York Lightning is set but the venue is not. That final bolt for Negron is hopefully nearing in and for the moment the legacy continues for his brother and the dream goes on for his players.

Comment Rich Mancuso:  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Lehman Comeback Falls Short

By Robert Cole

SPORTS- The Lehman College Lightening baseball team would fail to comeback from a 6-0 deficit against the John Jay Bloodhounds to lose the final game of the three-game series 13-10 at Fordham University.  

Lehman’s starting pitcher sophomore, Jose Albrincole (0-2), got off to a rough start with three walks, one batter hit by pitch, and a single to right field for three runs before getting his first out. A wild pitch with one out allowed the fourth run to cross the plate for John Jay for a first inning 4-0 lead.

Shaky defense by the Lightening would continue in the second inning, with two errors by the Lehman shortstop, Steve Cuello, leading to another run for the Bloodhounds and a 5-0 lead.  

Lehman would score in the top of the fourth inning.  Natanael Toribio doubled to right field scoring Geraldo Rodriguez, who had walked earlier in the inning.  

Toribio would score on a single up the middle by Carlo Francisco. John Jay would score two more runs in the bottom of the inning for an 8-2 lead.

With the Bloodhound leading 13-8 Lehman would squander a great opportunity to cut into the deficit in the eighth inning when they loaded the bases with no outs, but they failed to score as John Jay’s pitcher, Charlee Rodriguez, got Lehman’s Juan Arias to hit into a double play to end the inning.  

The Lightening would come close to taking the lead in the top of the ninth inning when, with the bases loaded and two outs, junior infielder Natanael Toribio, hit a long drive over the left field fence that drifted foul. Toribio would eventually be called out on a third strike for the second time in the last two innings.  

Lehman Coach, James Cisco stated, “It was a well fought game by both teams, John Jay was better today. We have to go back and get better this week.”

With the 13-10 victory John Jay improved their record to 2-9 (1-2 CUNY), while Lehman’s record drops to 4-7 (2-1 CUNY).

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Reggie Still ‘Mr. October,’ Just Ask T-Bone

By Ray Negron

TAMPA: A documentary has been in the works for some time now on the life of Super Scout Tom Giordano and the world of Major League Baseball scouts. Everyone from Atlanta Braves President John Hart, to all-time hits leader Pete Rose are featured in this documentary. 

The greatest second baseman of all-time, Roberto Alomar gives a testimonial with passion  about Giordano who is known by his peers as "T-Bone." The documentary traces the home run race between "T-Bone" and Hank Aaron in the 1953 minor league baseball season right up to the time where he signs the beloved Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.

When "T-Bone" was told that Reggie Jackson was going to take part in this film he could not have been happier. Through the years they have always had a very special bond. Many baseball insiders remember that Giordano was a big reason why the Orioles made the trade for Jackson in 1976. After the season Reggie presented Giordano with his Number 9 uniform shirt as a token of thank you. 

When Reggie was asked if he would take part in this documentary at first, he questioned it but when he found out it was about "T-Bone" he jumped at the opportunity to let the world know what a wonderful human being this great baseball veteran has been.

Reggie looks at "T-Bone" today as if he was a father to him. The fact that "T-Bone" at the age of 92 has been in baseball over 70 years, Reggie mentioned, that must be some type of Guinness Book of World Records.
Another longtime baseball official who did not want to be identified mentioned there should be a special wing in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown for people like Tom Giordano, almost like they have at the Ted Williams Hall of Fame in St. Petersburgh Florida where 'T-Bone" has a prominent display.

As "Mr. October" finished his heartfelt interview you could hear him say the days of the Tom Giordano's and all the great scouts are a thing of the past and we will not see another "T-Bone" again. 

Let's enjoy this one while we have him.

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