ARLINGTON, Texas — Nomar Mazara took the white iPhone and studied the Instagram image of he and Texas Rangers teammate Joey Gallo posing for picture with Dallas police officer Patrick Zamarripa. Then Mazara slowly read Gallo’s lengthy post as though trying to absorb the meaning of each word.
Then Mazara read it again.
“Who would expect that you would take a picture with somebody a month ago and they’d be dead today?” Mazara asked without really expecting an answer.
A couple months ago @nomazara26 and I were walking down the street in downtown Dallas. When an officer stopped us, Mazara and I immediately became nervous, “I know who you guys are” he said. “Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara, can I get a picture with you guys please?” It was definitely a first for me and Nomar to have an officer, a true hero, want to meet us. His name is Patrick Zamarripa, one of the officers killed in last nights shootings in Dallas. I’ll never forget how kind and down to Earth he was. We ended up having a 15 minute conversation about sports with him. He was an avid Rangers fan. But more importantly a great person, and family man. Please keep Patrick, and all the officers affected and their families in our prayers today. #prayfordallas
A photo posted by Joey Gallo (@joeygallo24) on Jul 8, 2016 at 2:09pm PDT
“Wow. It’s emotional when you see the picture.”
Zamarripa was among five people — four Dallas police officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer — who were killed Thursday night when Dallas police say a sniper began shooting from a downtown garage near the end of a peaceful protest against the police-involved shootings of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota this week. Dallas police said seven other officers and two civilians were wounded.
The Rangers had a moment of silence and a military fly over before Friday’s game to honor those who were killed and injured during the shooting. And before the national anthem, Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” blared throughout the stadium.
Several news outlets have identified the alleged shooter as Micah Xavier Johnson. He was killed early Friday morning, during a standoff with police, when police placed a bomb robot near Johnson and detonated it.
Mazara said he and Gallo, who spent May 23-28 with the Rangers before being sent down to Triple-A Round Rock, were walking around downtown Dallas several weeks ago when Zamarripa requested a photo.
“He was a nice guy,” Mazara said in a near empty clubhouse a couple of hours before the Rangers’ game against the Minnesota Twins.
“He recognized us and we took a picture and talked baseball for about 15 minutes,” Mazara said. “I just couldn’t believe it, when I found out that he was one of the officers that had been killed. I was glad I had a chance to take that picture, especially because he was a police officer. He’s a hero.”
Mazara wasn’t the only member of the Rangers dealing with the day’s emotions.
Manager Jeff Banister said he went to bed Thursday night watching news reports about the violence in downtown Dallas. Banister said he learned about the shootings during the seventh inning of the Rangers’ 10-1 loss to Minnesota from Blake Miller, the club’s vice president of security and parking, who made a brief dugout appearance.
“Immediately, it was gut-wrenching,” Banister said. “The rest of the game was pretty much a blur for me.”
When he woke up Friday morning, Banister said he quickly turned on the news to get the latest information. For a few hours those reports took precedence over scouting reports, roster decisions, and ways to beat the Twins.
“You just want to throw up, a tragedy like that,” Banister said. “Obviously, myself, I have a lot of respect for the families of the victims in Louisiana and Minnesota, but even more so here.
“How do you rebound from this? How do you reconnect?”
Prince Fielder, like many of his teammates and Banister, has many questions and few answers about how to bridge the apparent mistrust between citizens and public servants. Yes, the Rangers’ game is a respite from the tragedy that took place 25 miles east of Globe Life Park, but the issues will remain after the game’s final out.
“This is a serious issue and you don’t want to escape it,” Fielder said. “You really want to handle it as far as last night and the things that happened previous.
“Those are things we really need to look at and not shy away from.”