Meeting a Living Legend and Hall of Famer: Cal Ripken, Jr
I know, we’re Atlanta Braves fans. As such, by default, we are baseball fans just as much. This isn’t a story about the Braves, even though there are plenty of those to write about the past couple of days.
No, this is a baseball story. This is a story about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This past Wednesday, I was afforded the chance to meet a living legend. I shook the hand of the one and only Iron Man, Cal Ripken, Jr.
I had seen him before, but it was from a distance while he was on stage at the 2014 Hall of Fame induction ceremony. He never saw me, but I saw him. Wednesday, he saw me.
On Tuesday, a friend of mine, whose wife is a local realtor, told me about a promotion his wife was starting. The agency she works for doesn’t have a military specific team dedicated to helping those military stationed locally in finding homes.
This realtor group partners with Cal Ripken, Jr for other things. This group was opening a new office in town and they invited Cal down for a meet and greet opportunity. When I was asked if I would like to go along, with a few other military members, I jumped at the chance. Wouldn’t you?
It was everything I thought it would be and more. Cal (yeah, he let me call him Cal!) was by far, the biggest star I have ever met. Being active duty military, I’ve met quite a few: Gary Sinise, Diamond Dallas Page, Drew Brees, and even Roger Goodell and many others.
Cal was bigger in person than he looks in front of a camera. In person, the man looked like he was 6’4″ or 6’5″; I don’t know his exact height. But he was a big man, nonetheless. His hand almost completely covered my own.
However, my meeting him and snapping a couple of photos wasn’t all I got to do. I actually carried on a conversation for about 5 minutes with the man. We talked about the recent World Series win by the Cubs. While he spoke very favorably about Theo Epstein, he wasn’t quite ready to punch his ticket to the Hall of Fame.
Of course, I told him I was a die-hard Braves fan. He gave me a little smirk as I asked what he thought of the direction the team was headed. He was quick to remind me of the insufferable last year to year and a half. BUT, he was very enthusiastic about how they finished the last two months of this past season, and he thinks they are definitely moving in the right direction.
I am standing second to Cal’s right in this photo. I’m 5’9″ in height. Growing up in the ’80s and late ’90s, this man was one of my all-time favorite players, second only to Dale Murphy.
Getting the chance to meet the Iron Man, shake his hand, and talking about baseball for a few minutes was a dream come true. It was a moment I will never, ever forget. He was very down to earth, very approachable, and a very seemingly humble man.
So, as not just a Braves fan, but also a baseball fan, I wanted to share this moment. If you’re like me, you’re a baseball fan, too, and can fully appreciate the significance and weight of what this moment means to anyone who follows the game.
Thank you Brent and Chris for letting me share this here. It’s not everyday you get to meet someone like Cal Ripken, Jr.