Posts Tagged ‘Camden Yards’

My Immortal Cal Story: The Night I Snuck Into Camden Yards: Revolutionary Email Prose

August 19, 2014

My Immortal Cal Story: The Night I Snuck into Camden Yards

A friend of mine, a baseball nut, was exchanging e-mails with me about the All-Star game I went to in Seattle (where Ripken hit a home run and was named MVP). I happened to mention that, if you look really hard above the “3” in this picture of Cal Ripken, Jr., trotting around the bases in the 4th Inning against the Angels on September 6, 1995 (when he broke Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive games played, 2131), you’ll see me� or at least where I was! NOTE: It says 2130 because it’s in the early part of the game, and it’s not in the 5th inning yet, when it becomes an official game. Anyway, my friend says: “WHAT were you doing in Baltimore?!?”
So I wrote him back:

Oh, my heck. I never told you my Immortal Cal story?

I was in Baltimore for a conference I’d put together. About a month before I left for the conference, I started noticing that people were writing about the first part of September, in Baltimore, would be when/where Ripken would break “the Streak” record.

I got there, and one of my speakers and I thought… well, let’s head over to Camden Yards, just to hang out around the outside and be part of the crowd. My speaker was about 48 or so, big BoSox fan, so we just wandered around. Met Bud Selig (baseball commissioner) as he was walking outside the stadium. etc. etc. So we’re walking around, and this guy from Boston says: “Look at this security guard here, she’s not paying much attention” (it was in the store area of Camden Yards, actually in the B&O Warehouse next to Camden Yards), so while she’s talking to a bunch of college kids who are trying to sneak in, this guy and I just go behind her, say “excuse us”, and go in like we owned the place. We immediately head for the elevator to “The Camden Club”, the club on the top of the B&O Warehouse, just beyond the right field wall.

Right as the door is about to close, a teenage kid busts in. Next floor, security gets on, and immediately escorts the kid off … but ignores us! We go to the top floor, get off at the Camden Club, just as the Maitre d’ LEAVES his post … so we just walked into the bar, sat down, and ordered, oh, I dunno, orange juice. Milk. Or something. We talked to some people, then the game started, and we watched out the warehouse windows. When Ripken hit his homer that night, I was right above the “3” sign in the warehouse!

The funniest thing happened after I went to the restroom. I’m washing my hands, and look over by the urinal (there’s nobody else there) and there’s this window, OPEN, right over right center field. So I lean out and am looking around. This kid comes in, and this other guy, and we’re all leaning out the 2 windows, looking around, waving at the crowd, when BANG the door FLIES OPEN and this secret service guy runs in and yells “GET AWAY FROM THE WINDOW!!” And he comes in and shuts the 2 windows. And I leave and go back to my seat in the bar area. I’m thinking later: “Hmmm…. President Clinton in the Press Box. I’m in Center Field, in a 5th Story window in an old brick building with an unguarded, OPEN window. MAN! How did they miss THAT ONE!?!?!”

Anyway. So, we watch Cal’s home run in the 4th Inning, then when 5 1/2 innings are over and they stop the game, we’re up there yelling and waving through the CLOSED window when they unfurl the 2131 sign (we didn’t know what was going on at the time… I was wondering why everyone was looking at us!).

Then, about the 7th inning, we’re getting bored, so we leave. When we get down to the stadium level, I turn to the BoSox guy and say “Hey, let’s just see if we can get INTO the game”. So we walk up to this old security guard, and start to walk past him, and he says “can I see your tickets?”, and I say “we were just up in the Camden Club” and he says “It doesn’t matter, you have to have a ticket to get in here.” I’m bummed.

The BoSox guy says “Hey, look, all the phonies are leaving. The President’s left. How about just letting us go in. We’ll just find some empty seats, and not be any trouble”. And the old guy looks at us and says “Yeah, okay, what the heck” and lets us in. We go find some 16th row seats just inside of the right field foul pole and watch the game. Get our picture taken with the scoreboard by some local guy who later sends us both prints of us and the scoreboard. I ask them how much the tickets were, and they say “Oh, these are just regular season ticket seats, $18 each, but I could have gotten a lot more scalping them”.

Then DiMaggio, Murphy, everyone else comes out, the owner, Peter A., gives a LONG BORING talk, and blah blah blah. Then Ripken takes his trot around the bases. I’ll never forget THAT. He’s kind of tentative, waving, but not really getting into the crowd. But he reaches 1st base (about) and all of a sudden you can see it on his face, he just puts away his “game” face and starts connecting with the crowded, touching, shaking as many hands as he could. I don’t know if, until that moment, he really realized how much those fans loved him. I was sitting next to some big tough dock workers or freight workers or AFL-CIO union guys, and they were all bawling their eyes out. It was incredible. And we stayed and listened to all the speeches, and cheered, and saw history being made at Camden Yards

THEN, the next night, we’re walking around the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, and we see a bunch of people gathered on one of the wharves, looking about 50 feet away, to another wharf, where a BUNCH of white linen tables (and people) are … and a stage with a bunch of rappers (YUCK). And then they leave, and the guy comes on and says “and now what you’ve been waiting for” and everyone goes nuts, and I’m going “huh?”. And this large black woman walks out and yells “How y’all doin!!!” and everyone yells and then the music starts and she sings “Whatchu Want!? Baby I got it!” and I CAN”T BELIEVE IT! I’m 75 feet away from The Queen of Soul! FOR FREE!!!

Needless to say, I loved Baltimore!

And this is the first time I’ve ever written out my story of my Visit to Camden Yards.

Oh, yes, there is another part to it. I get home and am telling my family about sneaking into Camden Yards, and Kristian looks at me (he’s about 13) and says “But, isn’t that stealing?” Ummmm. SO I write Peter Angelos a letter and tell him about the entire thing, and how I’m sorry and since the ticket was $18, here’s a check for $18 and if he wants to donate it to the Ripken/Gehrig Fund at Johns Hopkins, that’s fine, or whatever he wants to do with it. About 3 weeks later I get a letter on Baltimore Orioles/Peter Angelos stationary, with his handwritten signature, telling me “Thank you for being so honest. I’ve donated the money to the Ripken/Gehrig Fund. Now you can tell your son and everyone else that you were at Camden Yards the night Cal Ripken made history. Best Wishes, Peter Angelos.”

So now I’m telling you.