Growing up in a smalltown in Maryland you grew up to love steamed crabs and watching Cal Ripken Jr play the game of baseball. I started following baseball in 1987 at the age of five. I grew up five minutes away from where Cal grew up in aberdeen. So as a kid you play the game wishing or hoping you could follow in his footsteps. You never thought about the day he would call it quits just what channel were they playing on that night.
Than came the announcement that he was retiring at the end of the 2001 Season. So it was only a matter of time before that day would come and it did. The day was October 6th, 2001 and the location was Camden Yards the home of the Baltimore Orioles in downtown Baltimore. The oppenent was the Boston Redsox a long time rival of the Orioles.
Days before the game I can remember non-stop playing on ebay searching for tickets for the game. Everyday an auction ended and days past before the day I ended up with the highest bid for 2 tickets for the game. Than I realized I paid close to four hundred dollars for two upper reserve seats but after the initial thought I realized that this game was priceless. That money I spent was some of the best money ever spent by me.
Game day came and as I entered the Stadium that day I can remember telling my uncle that this day would be a day I would not forget. That stood true as it is almost 8 years later and I think about it everytime I hear the song “There You’ll Be” by Faith Hill. This song was played before during and after the game. The Redsox won the game but it was magical just being there. The lights flashed from thousands of camera’s every time he stood in the batter box, as he made a play, as he took the field, and basically anytime he was in sight!
Bottom of the ninth, two outs and Brady Anderson on the way to the plate. Ripken stands waiting in the on-deck spot waiting for a chance to swing the bat. After a few pitches the count went to 3-2 and Anderson swings at a pitch out of the strike zone for strike three. As I stood standing along thousands of Orioles fans just, I couldn’t stop thinking how it would have been great if Anderson would have walked and Ripken would have gotten that last at bat. Thinking maybe he could hit that final homerun, that final hit, or just that final at bat. Then the tears set in as I realized my hero just played in his final game. I took a look around and than you realized that he wasn’t just your hero he was a hero of the game of baseball.
As he gave he farewell speech the flashes continued, the lyrics of “There You’ll Be” played & the tears continued to flow. This was the game that many years later you sit back and say “Thats the best game that I ever went to”.