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Houston Police Chief Challenges NYPD Commissioner to Bet On Astros–Yankees Game

Astros, don’t make Art Acevedo wear a Yankees jersey.

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Illustration by Claire Hogan (O'Neill: Drew Angerer/Getty Images; Acevedo: Eric Gay/AP)

Friday night, Houstonians will cheer on their Astros as they take on the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. But for at least one Astros fan, it’s not just team pride on the line. “We better win,” says Art Acevedo, chief of police in Houston. “If we lose, I’m not sure I’m gonna be able to find a Yankees jersey here in the great state of Texas.”

On Thursday, Acevedo, a lifelong Astros fan, challenged James O’Neill, commissioner of the New York Police Department, to a friendly wager. If the Astros win the series, O’Neill has to wear the navy-and-orange jersey; if the Yankees win, Acevedo will wear the colors of the Yankees. “The gauntlet has been dropped,” says Acevedo.

On Friday afternoon, O’Neill responded, throwing in a roast and a boast, as a true Yankees fan would.

Acevedo grew up in Los Angeles rooting for the Dodgers, but he insists he’s always been an Astros fan. “I remember going to the Astrodome as a very young boy in the late 1970s, with my dad, visiting my uncle and my cousins,” he says. “I always loved their old-school colors—it was such a cool uniform.” As an L.A. native, Acevedo’s rivalry with New York goes way back, too. “I remember the Yankees actually breaking the hearts of the Dodgers when I was a little boy,” he says. “This is payback time, and I can’t wait to see what happens.”

His challenge to O’Neill isn’t out of the blue. As police chiefs in two of the country’s biggest cities, the two have known each other for over a decade. “We usually talk about how to keep the people of our great nation safe, but this next week, we’ll also be talking about baseball,” says Acevedo. As fate would have it, the conversation—and perhaps the fulfillment of the bet—will happen in person: The two chiefs will see each other next Friday at the Major Cities Chiefs Conference in Philadelphia.

This isn’t the first time Acevedo has made a wager on Houston teams. During last year’s NBA playoffs, he made a bet with San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus, and was forced to wear a Spurs jersey. “I do not want to go through that again,” says Acevedo. “If I lose this—which is not gonna happen—I’m blaming the loss on my stupid bet, and I won’t be doing it anymore.” But if he wins, Acevedo may challenge police chiefs across the nation to wear Rockets, Dynamo, and Texans jerseys. “Only time will tell,” says Acevedo.

Acevedo believes in his Astros—but he’ll enjoy tonight’s game either way. He hopes to watch it from the stands at Minute Maid Park, wearing his Astros polo and hat. “When I see the Yankees and the Astros playing, it’s gonna bring back sweet memories of my dad, and the joy he and I used to have going to Dodgers stadium as a kid,” says Acevedo. Win or lose, that’s a feeling worth betting on.

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