Friday, February 4, 2011

Cal Ripken Jr autographed ball.

Back in 1995 I was still managing a sports card store, and amongst out regulars was a guy who was a huge fan of the Baltimore Orioles. So I'd always make a point of putting aside anything Orioles for him, and he'd buy it all no questions asked. Gotta love customers like that.

So he comes on on Saturday May 27, 1995, and he's got 3 tickets for the next nights game in Seattle. Orioles v Mariners at the Kingdome. He says he can't make it, and could I use them?

Silly question. No one at the store wanted to go, and my friends were out of town or busy, so I had to take the wife. We met up with her Uncle who lived near Seattle and the 3 of us took in the game.

Apparently Kevin Brown pitched for the Orioles, and Chris Bosio pitched and got the win for the Mariners. I remember nothing about the game. Nada.

I'd brought a couple of baseballs along, and we decided to give it 30 minutes or so to see if anyone was going to be signing from the Orioles after the game. Smallish crowd of people hanging out, the bus was ready with the doors open and the players and coaches started making their way out.  Mike Mussina wouldn't sign because he was starting the next day, I think Brady Anderson signed some things, Mike Flanagan wouldn't sign, sadly Frank Robinson wouldn't sign either.

Things were looking bleak, but the Raffy Palmeiro came and signed for everyone who wanted one, and I got a nice signature on one of the balls. That one eventually made it's way back to the source of the tickets.

Of course everyone was waiting for Cal, and by the time he came out all the other players were on the bus, so it didn't look good. But, Cal put down his briefcase and his jacket, and started signing. Classy guy. And being Cal, he was signing for the kids, and not the adults. Which was cool.

I was always well prepared in these situations, I had the ball waiting in it's box with the flaps torn off, and the pen carefully in the box so as not to mark the ball. And I just stood there, not too worried if he signed or not, and not really expecting it. Ah, but then a woman called out to Cal, and started saying how she had gone to school with his wife, and blah blah blah. She had a ball, so Cal motioned for her to come forward so he could sign it. But she had no pen. So I leaned in and reached my box over (it helped that I'm 6'7), and Cal looked up and saw my pen, and took it to sign her ball. And Cal being a classy guy, he signed my ball as well. It was a really cool moment. And yes, because Raffy signed when a lot of guys couldn't be bothered, I've always had a soft spot for him. He belongs in the Hall.

This picture doesn't do the ball justice, as it's still in perfect condition after all this time.

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