A handful of neighborhood police officers and kids who play ball together received quite a surprise recently when Texas Rangers baseball player Mickey Tettleton called to say he was buying them baseball uniforms.
They were even more pleasantly surprised when Tettleton showed up at a neighborhood ballgame to distribute the uniforms.
The officers and at-risk kids have been playing baseball most Thursday nights since October, after the Northeast Organized Neighbors Association (NEON) developed the Police and Kids Together (PAKT) program.
PAKT is designed to provide an activity for at-risk children and put them in touch with Northeast Division police officers in a non-confrontational manner, says NEON member J.J. Pair.
Tettleton and the Texas Rangers Baseball Team matched funds last month and presented shirts, pants, stirrups, batting helmets and hats to the kids. The police officers received shirts and hats, along with new bats, catchers’ equipment and balls.
The group also received 50 Ranger tickets for four baseball games at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Tettleton says he discovered the program on his own after reading about it.
“I liked the association with baseball and kids being on the field. They’re doing something constructive rather than destructive,” Tettleton says.
The kids’ team make-up has stayed the same since the beginning, and the players’ skills have improved a great deal, says team member Oscar Oliveria.
“At first, we just kept beating them. They couldn’t throw or couldn’t hit. They didn’t know the mechanics of the game,” says Officer P.T. Barnum, a NEON member.
“But they beat us last week. They’ve been practicing, and it definitely shows,” Barnum says.
Celebrities occasionally join the police team, with players including Mayor Ron Kirk and John Martinez, deputy chief of the Northeast Division.
“They’re all a lot of fun,” Oliveria says about the officers.
For information about the program, call NEON at 606-5099.