ISMAEL NUNEZ: Puerto Rican, born and raised in East Harlem, NY; BA in Media/Communications, with a focus on Photo/Journalism. Assignments included Latin American Community issues, has covered sporting events, Puerto Rican parade, Puerto Rican independent movement, and is a youth advocate & writers on topics affecting people with disabilities. He serves as Secretary of the Self-Advocate Association at the YAI.

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January 2021 Issue

The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame held their annual awards this past year in Sept. I had an opportunity to meet the former “Batboy” for the New York Yankees, Luis “Squeegee” Castillo, today a loving father and family man.  I sat down with him, asking several questions about how it happened?
How did you become a Batboy for the Yankees?  In July 1997, I went to one of the games with my friend Alex, and we ended up sitting in a lady’s reserved seat without her permission, telling us we “cannot seat there.” Here name was Tina Lewis (Queen of the Bleacher Creatures).  My friend ended up using profanity in response to her demand and we got escorted out by Security. I went back the next day and apologized on his behalf. She accepted the apology and the rest was history. She accepted me into the Bleacher Creature family, becoming good friends. I told her about my dream of someday becoming a Batboy for the Yankees. She told me that if I stayed in school and behaved, she would help me write a letter to the Yankees. After writing several times, I received a letter welcoming me to the Yankees’ Baseball field staff.
That must be an honor, how did your family and friends react? They could not believe it, they thought I was lying, they did not think that a kid from the neighborhood would be working for the Yankees, and especially as a Batboy?  Once they saw me on TV, they were excited and proud to see that someone from the block was a member of the  NY Yankees.
I understand you have an organization dedicated to young people: My organization is the Squeegee’s Children’s Literacy Foundation, founded in 2013. The mission is to enforce literacy in our urban communities. We provide educational materials to assist them succeed. We also work with people and kids with disabilities, especially with autism and special needs. We are involved in theatre, and raise funds to support related programs, providing scholarships and pay medical bills.
You have a son who is autistic. That must be challenging: Yes, I have learned so much from him. I have been able to learn how to grow with him and his development. Autism or any other disability should not make them different. It is a special gift from God.
Are you aware there is a movement to erase or eliminate the “R” word? (Retard). My reaction is anger whenever I hear someone use the word. No one should belittle anyone. The word should not exist, it should be banned, made illegal. This term is harmful, a form of mental abuse for a child or adult with a disability.
message you would like to share with people, like myself, and others Latinos with or without disabilities? Yes, always remember that you are loved, you serve a purpose on this planet for the Lord. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.  One can support our organization Check out our website:
Take me back home