How The Yankees Honor Police Officers [VIDEO]

How The Yankees Honor Police Officers [VIDEO]

How The Yankees Honor Police Officers [VIDEO]

I love it when baseball teams do A Good Thing, just because it is A Good Thing. Even if it is the New York Yankees. Professional sports is one of those platforms capable of doing much good with simple acts, and this is one of them.

All MLB teams are deeply involved in the communities they play in – you can look at each team’s website and they will list off the different charities that players support or have created. For example:

There are many, many more examples. But what the Yankees organization has done – quietly, without recognition until now – is different.

The Police Department in Yarmouth, Mass., was mourning the death of one of its officers, Sean Gannon, last month when a bouquet of flowers arrived at the station bearing a card with five unexpected words: “From the New York Yankees.”

Officer Gannon was shot and killed while serving a warrant in neighboring Marstons Mills, a tiny village in Cape Cod, where the Yankees are considered bitter rivals.

“I’m a die-hard Red Sox fan, and my first reaction was, ‘Call the delivery guy and tell him to take them back,’” said Frank Frederickson, the Yarmouth police chief. “I say that in jest, of course. That is a class move, and it meant a lot to us. All the guys came down and wanted to see it. They were like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

Reactions were similar at the sheriff’s department in Lebanon, Ind., last month and at a home in Fargo, N.D., in 2016, and dozens of other locations from Maine to Alaska. For the past three years, the Yankees have been quietly sending flowers to the families and police departments of slain law enforcement officers across the country.

How classy and lovely is that???

Actually, the gesture grew from something the Yankees have done for decades — sending flowers to the funerals of officers killed in the New York metropolitan area. But one day in 2015, Sonny Hight, a former detective in the New York Police Department who is a Yankees vice president and the chief security officer, heard about a police officer killed in another state. Mr. Hight said he did not now remember the episode, the city or the date, only that he was moved to act.

“I just thought, hey, this guy deserves to be recognized for his sacrifice,” Mr. Hight said. “We should at least send some flowers acknowledging it.”

The start of the nationwide effort in 2015 coincided with rising national protests against the police after a series of deadly shootings involving officers, but Mr. Hight said there was no political agenda behind the gesture. It was, and remains, merely an expression of sympathy.

George Steinbrenner surely would have approved. Steinbrenner, the former Yankees owner who died in 2010, had a personal affinity for law enforcement, and for decades many of the team’s security personnel have been hired from posts at the N.Y.P.D. and the F.B.I.

In 1982, Steinbrenner helped create the Silver Shield Foundation, which provides money for educational support to the families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty, and the flowers are an extension of the same ethos.

The Yankees are very supportive of their local police and fire departments.

Even if you are not a Yankees fan, the example that they are setting in honoring first responders and police, both in New York and all over the country, is something that can be recognized as a beautiful gesture that has meant a lot to those who have received it.

While the flowers usually arrive without warning or explanation beyond the message on the card, the gesture can elicit strong emotions. In Fargo, when Officer Jason Moszer was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2016, his 11-year-old stepson, Dillan Dahl, was devastated. When the flowers from the Yankees arrived, Dillan took them to his room and watered them, trying to keep them alive for as long as possible, said his father, Tim Dahl.

“It was the first time he smiled in days,” Mr. Dahl said.

Two years ago in Kansas City, Kan., Capt. Robert Melton was shot while trying to apprehend a suspect. Captain Melton, 46, had three children, and his girlfriend was expecting another child; their daughter, Eloise, was born five months after his death.

Upon receiving the Yankees’ flowers, Terry Zeigler, the police chief, replied with a letter of thanks, one of the many that Mr. Hight keeps in his office.

Thank you, Yankees organization, for such a simple but lovely acknowledgement to the families and colleagues of those who have been killed in the line of duty. That it has gone unmentioned in three years is simply amazing, but we should all be grateful for your kindness.

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