Monday, February 19, 2007

The Iron Man

Beautiful. Camden Yards- Baltimore, MD.

The Iron Man. Cal Ripken, Jr.

2,131 consecutive games.
Growing up, there was no greater excitement and anticipation in my life than the days when I would wake up, put on my Ripken #8 Jersey, and eagerly await the words "Okay, let's go" from my Dad. We'd drive to Baltimore, and the 1 hour ride would feel like 3. We'd park at the special parking lot for people with season tickets, get into the ballpark an hour before everyone else... walk up and down Eutaw Street, checking out the stores, smelling Boog's BBQ, and we'd wait where the flags are (If you look at the above picture, its right underneath where the "2131" banners are). If you stood there during batting practice, the batters aimed their homeruns at you, and there were always balls flying around. I remember it took until I was atleast 11 or 12 to be able to look over the brick wall.
I had the opportunity to see Cal Ripken Jr. play so many times... He is my childhood hero, and although I have other heroes now, he pops up in my mind every once in awhile. He is an amazing man, father, and baseball player. I followed his lead and my official position in softball for years and years was shortstop, even though Cal moved over to Third later on in his career. His achievements are awesome- I don't know if many MLB players can say they've achieved the status of Cal Ripken Jr. My grandparents were so lucky...they were given tickets to an Orioles game by a friend one random day in September, 1998. They went to the game on September 19, 1998, and the next night, watching the next game of the series on television, they watched Cal Ripken announce the end of his streak, and he did not play the game. They had attended the last game of his streak, and no one in the stadium knew except for Cal Ripken himself.
The Baltimore Orioles may not be the Boston Red Sox, or the Yankees... but they are my team. They produced one of the greatest baseball players of our time. The Orioles may be less than mediocre, especially the last decade or so. However, they have loyal fans, they have a rich history, and a beautiful stadium.
4 months before Liam died, a friend of the Kane family met Cal Ripken Jr. When asked to sign a ball for Liam, Cal asked about his cancer. When he was told that he'd relapsed with a rare and aggressive childhood cancer, he signed the ball "To Liam, the true Ironman." and signed the baseball. I'll never forget that until the day I die. Even if Liam never completely understood or appreciated that statement, that baseball connects my two biggest heroes, and they are both amazing human beings.


Anonymous said...

i have goosebumps from this post. just thought i'd let you know.

ps. i'm wearing yellow. :)

Anonymous said...

...and that was maria, by the way. i forgot to write my name. i'm not trying to be cryptic on you. haha.

Anonymous said...

cal ripken was at one of the men's basketball games a couple of weeks ago! and my friend ben shook his hand! good times...