Last night as I was grading papers and preparing a lecture for online delivery, my husband called me into the family room.
“ESPN is airing the full 2131 game,” he said. He was referring to Cal Ripken’s historic night at Camden Yards with the Baltimore Orioles when he surpassed Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak record, a record we will most likely never see broken again.
The quality of the video wasn’t good, and my husband and I watched Mike Mussina on the mound.
A wave of nostalgia came over me.
I was on the field that night, as an employee of the ballclub, executing my duties.
That was a long time ago now. But my memory of it has not faded.
A husband, two kids (one in college and one about to go to college), two homes, and a whole new career as a university professor later, and I remember that moment of being in the dugout with Cal and his parents like it was yesterday.
Prior to having the game responsibility of escorting Cal Ripken’s mom and dad for the evening and checking on various elements we had put together as a member of the event planning team, I had labored for about six weeks to produce the Cal Ripken Commemorative publication, the book that was sold during 2130 and 2131, both games played at home at Camden Yards. As the Director of Publishing, it was an intense six weeks of writing, in essence, a book—replete with chapters and a timeline of Cal’s history with the ballclub. I was the editor of that publication, and the responsibility of putting something meaningful together from the Orioles as a keepsake was at the forefront of my mind. My assistant, Monica, and I put the whole thing together, with the help of an outside designer and many writers.
We were able to pull off a nice publication, I wrote a chapter, as did many of my writers who wrote consistently for Orioles Magazine, the publication for which I was also the editor. I even coaxed my husband into writing a chapter.
Last night, former Baltimore Sun writer Ken Rosenthal, now MLB on Fox reporter, tweeted about the piece he wrote for The Sun regarding that special night at Camden Yards, calling it the highlight of his career. Likewise, I have often said that producing the Cal Ripken Commemorative publication was the pinnacle of my career in baseball.
I still show that book to my students in public relations writing and magazine writing; it is something I will treasure forever, just as I treasured those moments at Camden Yards as a member of the Orioles front office. I remember seeing Joe DiMaggio, a teammate of Lou Gehrig’s on the New York Yankees, on the field as I was standing there, and nearly fell over as he stood right in front of me, smiling and laughing with other dignitaries. Musician Bruce Hornsby and I had a chat, and I had my photograph taken with him. The 22-min standing ovation was something I’d never in my life witnessed. I still get chills thinking about it.
So many memories, you guys.
There really was nothing better than working alongside your best friends in baseball for one of the most significant moments in baseball history.
It was nice to be brought back to that time last night—if only for a moment.
And now, as my husband is back working with the Orioles, I look forward to many more memories of life in baseball.
Stephanie Verni is Professor of Communication at Stevenson University. She is the author of 5 works of fiction and the co-author of one academic textbook on Event Planning. Her character-driven books are set in beautiful Maryland locations and examine the realities of the human heart. Connect with her on Instagram at stephanie.verni or on Twitter at @stephverni. Or, visit her Amazon page at Stephanie Verni, Author.