my hero

i’ve always looked up to cal ripken jr. i grew up outside baltimore, and my family got orioles season tickets every year. Each spring we’d make the 20 minute drive into the city and trek to camden yards, which i believe is the most beautiful baseball stadium, to watch “my boys” play.

and for some reason, cal ripken became my favorite player. i followed his record in games, i collected his baseball cards. my one wish was to meet this man who earned my respect when he would spend an hour or two in the sweltering sun before each game signing autographs for fans while the other players relaxed inside.

in july 2001, i got my chance. it was cal’s last season playing, and his farewell tour was scheduled in atlanta (thank goodness for interleague play!). i had to go. i wrote a column about how i looked up to him for our sports section, and then pitched the idea of covering his press conference and game in another column to our sports editor. he made a few calls and secured press passes for me and matt, my photographer.

fast forward to july 12, 2001. i’m speeding down the interstate, stressing out that w’d be late and miss the press conference. matt is watching my spedometer reach 90 and is flipping out.

we get to turner field and are taken down into the bowels of the stadium to head to the dugout. i sit down, and when cal comes in to answer our questions, i’m just inches in front of him. it was amazing. but i still wanted to talk to him.

i approached cal’s publicist. i’m a baltimoran, i tell him. i grew up watching cal play both in person and on tv. i wait. the publicist smiles. cal would love to meet you, he tells me.

and then, i was talking to him. definitely one of the best experiences of my life. we weren’t allowed to have posed pictures taken, so matt was at the top of the dugout shooting away as cal and i talked.

i gave cal a copy of the first column i had written about him. “this is nice,” he said. “i’ll read it while i eat my pizza.”

that made my day.

our press passes allowed us access to the field and the press box, so after going up to the stands to visit my family who drove down for the gama and getting something to eat in the press box, i watched the game from the orioles dugout, no more than five feet from cal the whole time.

that was the best baseball game i’ve ever seen.

the best game ever

i watched the most fantastic baseball game i’ve ever seen last night. braves v nationals, both teams tied for first in their division. at the end of the ninth the score is tied 2-2. it’s the top of the 10th. the nationals get three outs with no runs. the braves come up. two outs later, bases are loaded. andruw jones comes up to bat. he’s the home run king of the braves, so i’m hoping he’ll hit one out of the park for a grand slam. but no. the nationals’ pitcher throws four balls, walking the winning run in for the braves. absolutely amazing. joe went nuts. i just sat on the couch in shock. i don’t think that closer will be pitching again anytime soon. 🙂

so now the braves are in first, one game up on the nationals. the rest of the three-game series should be great.

here’s the story in today’s ajc.

hell has frozen over

yes, i think that is what every follower of baseball is saying. why, you may ask? because my boys, the baltimore orioles are kicking ass this season. yes, thanks to players like miguel tejada and brian roberts, my boys are now first in their division. after being at the bottom of the standing for . . . well for so long i can’t remember when they weren’t . . . they’re now making us baltimorans proud. and, as an added bonus, the yankees are fourth. woo hoo! (i apologize now to any yankees fans). i love baseball!

take me out to the baaaaallgaaaame

i love baseball season. last sunday joe had planned to watch the braves-mets game on tv. when i got back from church on saturday, he asked me if i minded watching it with him. of course not. “well good, because i figured we’d watch it at the stadium.” his friend had two extra tickets to the game, so we went along. it was great. his friend, billy, and his girlfriend, jennifer, were very nice and the game was great. we had kick ass seats in the 11th row right between home plate and the visiting team’s dugout. the braves were doing great until they took the starting pitcher out at the top of the 8th. the mets scored three home runs and ended up winning the game. going to the game with joe was definitely the best time i’ve had at a baseball game. we had fun…until i got sick from the sun exposure that is. but that’s another story…