My son, Jon Erik is a great person. He cares about his community and his country like no other.
His mother is of African-American and German descent. We have been divorced for more than 25 years and I will say that she is one of the more terrific people that I have known in all of my life. She is remarried to Jerry, a white gentleman, who has become one of my best friends. Jerry was a NYPD police officer and if I have had the opportunity to pick a stepfather for my son, it would have been Jerry. He was always there for my son when I couldn’t be. My son Jon Erik is a much better person in this world because he has had a person like Jerry in his life.
As most of you know, I have been involved in baseball for most of my life and my son followed in my passion for the game. I worked for the great George Steinbrenner and hoped that someday Jon Erik would be a great left-handed pitcher. Jon Erik attended college and received a partial baseball scholarship from Dowling College on Long Island. In a perfect world, my dream for Jon Erik was that he would have had a great college career, he would have gotten drafted by a major league team, and lived happily ever after. One day I remember Jon Erik sitting in Mr. Steinbrenner’s office listening to the Boss talking to one of his best friends Jim Fuchs, the great Olympian, about the Silver Shield Foundation. The Boss and Jim Fuchs started the organization to make sure that the families of police offices that are killed in the line of duty are taken care of. He listened to the heroic stories of the fallen officers and this had a huge effect on his life, in that moment he realized that baseball wasn’t as important anymore.
Jon Erik’s stepfather had been a police officer for over 25 years. Jerry wasn’t just a police officer, he was a damn good cop. Jon Erik decided to follow in Jerry’s footsteps and I couldn’t be prouder of him. He tells me of some of his stories from the job and I listen with great pride. Jon Erik knows that he is making a difference every day. He loves his job and he loves the people that he works for and works with. As a parent, I worry for my son’s safety. I know that he is making a difference, he is helping to make things better for his community.
Jon Erik choose to follow in the footsteps of his stepfather because of the great respect that he has for what he did each and every day. We should all respect the job that police officers do, but somewhere along the way our respect of officers and others was lost.
Five police officers were shot and killed in Dallas, three officers were killed in Louisiana. God knows how many more will follow. It is very scary to me when I get a call from Reggie Jackson, the baseball Hall of Famer, and Jon Erik’s Godfather, wanting me to tell Jon Erik to be more careful.
It is a shame that the ignorance of some people is causing families to lose their loved ones, kids losing their parents and communities to suffer in the aftermath of such tragedy. I am begging all people to please wake up to the reality of what’s happening to our world. I am begging you to understand that “one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.” These officers are protecting our families and our community. Their lives matter!
My son is a police officer. My son’s life matters!
Ray Negron is a Yankees executive and has worked for the team for over 40 years. His first job came from a chance encounter with George Steinbrenner as a youth. He has become an American film producer, a best-selling author, and a philanthropist. His memoir is entitled, “Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers.”