Thursday’s attack in Dallas, in which five police officers were killed and seven others were injured, hit too close to home for many residents across the state of Texas.
For Texas Rangers prospect Joey Gallo, the news from Dallas was especially harrowing.
Gallo, an infielder currently with Texas’ Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock, shared a photo on Instagram on Friday of he and Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara with Dallas police officer Patrick Zamarripa.
In the post that accompanied the photo, Gallo recounted meeting Zamarripa about two months ago in downtown Dallas. The 22-year-old admitted to being nervous when he and Mazara were first approached by the officer, but Zamarripa — a Rangers fan — simply wanted his photo taken with the two, according to Gallo.
“It was definitely a first for me and Nomar to have an officer, a true hero, want to meet us,” Gallo wrote.
Zamarripa was one of the five officers killed in Thursday’s shootings. He was 32.
“I’ll never forget how kind and down to Earth he was,” Gallo wrote.
At times, it’s easy for fans — as well as members of the media — to view professional athletes merely as stat lines in a box score, impervious to the barbs cast by callers on sports talk radio shows or disparaging headlines in newspapers and on the internet.
Similarly, at times, people view police officers — the men and women who have sworn to protect and serve the public — as emotionless machines, programmed to issue speeding tickets and hassle innocent citizens in search of some sort of wrongdoing.
Gallo’s Instagram post eloquently disproved both.
Two professional athletes and a police officer, with mutual respect and admiration for one another, conversed for 15 minutes before parting ways. Following Thursday’s events, the encounter had an even greater effect on Gallo, who was courteous enough to take time to have the initial conversation, in addition to making his heartfelt social media post.
True, not all athletes and officers are worthy role models. They, too, are capable of making mistakes and poor choices.
However, the majority of the men and women in uniform — both on the playing field and in the police force — are good, genuine people whose lives extend far beyond their chosen professions. Zamarripa, a Navy veteran, was a dedicated son and a devoted father to his 2-year-old daughter.
But unlike police officers, professional athletes seldom, if ever, go to work with the knowledge that they might never return home. And while injury is always a concern, an athlete’s loved ones don’t live in fear of a dreaded phone call that their worst nightmare has become reality.
While some professions involve more inherent risk than others, the real truth is that we, as a society, value all human life. The lives of professional athletes and police officers — of any race and gender — should be valued equally.
Sadly, not everywhere in our world is this true, but the more we all open our hearts and minds and value the lives being lived by the people around us, the further away we will move from intolerance and hate.
“Please keep Patrick, and all the officers affected and their families in our prayers today,” Gallo wrote to conclude his post.
It’s a sentiment worthy of each and every day.