The Suit Never Tells the Story


Michael M., Reporter

You never know who you might find behind the security desk at Beth Tfiloh – maybe even a past pro-baseball player. With the rotation of officers of different backgrounds and personalities, getting to know one can change the way you look at the people that protect and serve.      

         Officer Don Gray, 71-years-old, was born in Madrid, Spain in 1950. He moved in 1954 at four-years-old and immigrated to Greensboro, North Carolina. At 12, Officer Gray moved to Baltimore, the city he still calls home.  

         Now this is where this unlikely story takes its remarkable twist. Officer Gray was a big baseball player growing up. In the summer, he played for a local team. Additionally, Gray played through high school and at the Community College of Baltimore for one year before going to Arizona State. In 1969, Gray was drafted by the Cleveland Indians pro-baseball team. He was the 125th overall pick and was drafted in the 6th round as an infielder from the Community College of Baltimore County. When drafted, Officer Gray and his family were ecstatic.  He was drafted before getting the chance to play for Arizona State. Gray played only one full season in the minor leagues before he got hit by a pitch that broke two of his ribs. Even to this day, his ribs are formed differently because of the impact from the pitch.    

When Officer Gray graduated high school in 1968, he had a friend whose father was a detective. Gray liked what he did but had a college scholarship as a baseball player. After his baseball career was over and his injury rehab ended, his friend’s father retired. As a result, because he was inspired, Gray applied to the Maryland State Police and was hired in 1971 as a patrol officer. He worked that job for 19 years until 1990 when he began work as a jewelry transporter for the Dunbar Armored Car Company. At Dunbar, he transported jewelry across the country, including Hawaii, a trip he made twice a year. Once in Miami, Officer Gray noticed some stolen jewelry. He and his partner caught the two guys who stole the jewelry. After working that job for 25 years, he retired in 2015 and started working for Defender One.   

With Defender One, a private security company, Officer Gray has been serving primarily at Beth Tfiloh, especially in the last three years, as well as additional bodyguarding and private security. As a security officer at a school in 2022 with all unsafe events that have been happening in schools around the country, Officer Gray says “the training that [he] was taught in law enforcement relates to the things that may happen here.” However, in order to “protect the kids from lower school to high school, [his] law enforcement training makes [him] over and above a regular cop.”  

The students, teachers, and staff at Beth Tfiloh are “very sociable, well-educated, and controlled” according to Officer Gray. Officer Gray sees many people in the halls of Beth Tfiloh each day. His role is to protect both staff and students. He starts his day by unlocking doors to let synagogue members into the services. Monitoring the traffic in the lower school in the morning and afternoon for dismissal, he “[makes] sure everything runs smooth[ly] and everyone is protected from whatever elements there could be.”   

In his personal life,  he is a frequent bowler, going three times a week. Though describing himself as a “heavy gambler,” he doesn’t gamble on sports because he doesn’t gamble “on something [he] can’t control.” Officer Gray has been married for 17 years, with one daughter and one son. His son, Mark, was the youngest major that Baltimore City has had at 39-years-old. He worked in Baltimore City for 20 years before retiring and becoming Chief of Police at a university and his daughter works in childcare. He has a couple of cousins in North Carolina “and that’s about it”. A sports fan, he watches baseball but “does not have a favorite team,” including the team that drafted him.  

Now, when you see him in the halls, you know that inside the suit is an interesting character with a frequent smile.