Growing up in Louisiana there was of course no professional baseball team. I was a Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs fan due to the fact that my two favorite players were Nolan Ryan and Mark Grace.
When I was about 10 I had the chance to meet Mark Grace and get his autograph, which my oldest son now has, and up till earlier this year that was my greatest baseball moment, meeting my favorite baseball player and getting his autograph. Just for the record Mark Grace is still my favorite all time baseball player.
A couple of months ago, I had a baseball memory that will last a life time, and the crazy part was that it did not happen at a baseball game or not even a baseball stadium. I am also pretty sure that nothing baseball related will come close to it, of course unless one of my son’s was to go on and play professional baseball.
I always knew about the Orioles growing up in Louisiana. Ben McDonald of course played at LSU, Albert Belle played at LSU, and David Segui played at Louisiana Tech. Plus what kid did not try his heart out trying to find that Billy Ripken baseball card with the word on the bat. I also knew there was a guy who was pretty good that played for the Orioles named Cal Ripken Jr. I remember I thought how cool that must be to have your brother as a teammate and your dad as a coach, especially since I only have a older brother and thought what that would be like.
Cal’s playing days were over with when I began to cover the Orioles, but I had met him through Nestor and different events when Cal would come to the ball park, and at his charity dinner. However when Spencer Folau found out that I played basketball, and I found out Spencer played basketball with Cal, there was a mutual interest.
I was invited to come out to Cal Ripken’s house and play basketball with him. First off to be walking into the personal gym and basketball court of a baseball hall of famer was awesome enough, but to meet him and shake his hand and realize that in a few moments I would be running up and down the court with him was over whelming. I will tell you that any and every thing that you hear about the basketball games is very true, they are flat out intense. To be guarded by Cal Ripken Jr and see the intensity in his eyes and that glare was crazy. Just for the record the team I was on with Spencer Folau won the first game, and I can tell you Cal does not like losing. I don’t really recall the outcome of the next 7 games, but hey at least we won one right.
How many people can say they beat Cal Ripken Jr in basketball, and had their shot blocked by him. Hey it is the memories that matter the most.
That day was a day I will never forget, I remember every detail of that entire day, and will for the rest of my life. As Cal gets ready to have his well deserved day in the spotlight, I will be able to know that I was on a team that went 1-8 against his team in basketball.
Thanks for the memory Cal.