by Zharde K. Sellona, Felician College Sports Information Student Assistant
In a news item that received national publicity, New York City police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot and killed while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn on December 20, 2014.
What is not as widely know is that Ramos, 40, was a big fan of baseball, sharing his love for the game with his sons, Justin and Jayden. The NYPD sponsors its own baseball team, and the head coach, Jose Vasquez had the team spend time with the Ramos family to honor him for his valiant efforts.
Vasquez is a longtime friend of 25-year NYPD detective Ray Torres, a player on his team. Torres' son, Brandon Torres (Highland Mills, N.Y./Monroe-Woodbury), is a freshman on the baseball team at Felician College. Vasquez has followed the baseball career of Brandon Torres from youth leagues through high school, and came up with the idea to have him meet the Ramos family.
According to Brandon Torres, the family was very happy with his visit because it helped the children cope with someone more relatable to them. He especially got to spend time with the youngest son, Jayden, 13, and Jayden a jersey on behalf of the Felician baseball team. Another jersey was given to the Mrs. Ramos for the older brother, Justin, 19, who was away at college.
Brandon's and Jayden's love for baseball immediately drew an instant connection between the two. Brandon used baseball to eventually get Jayden to talk about how he has been coping with the incident. His goal was simply to make Jayden feel comfortable and bring a smile to his face.
"I was happy to give him the uniforms and everything, but I was also sad just thinking about him losing his father because I wouldn't be able to think about losing my father," Torres said.
The NYPD baseball team consists of officers and ex-professional players with a lingering love for the sport. The team competes in a long season and multiple tournaments; it was recently the runner-up in the Carolina Classic Police & Fire Tournament. Players get the opportunity to play in major-league stadiums and meet legendary baseball players. Vasquez has often allowed Brandon Torres to train with the team.
They have taught me not to give up on my dreams and to always work hard," the younger Torres said. "Nothing in life is handed to you."
Just as the NYPD baseball team has helped raise the aspirations of Torres, he in turn tried to do the same for the Ramos family with an emotional and memorable visit.