Friday, November 23, 2007
"THE LANGUAGE OF BASEBALL"
(Video care of one of my special friends Nestor Aparicio. To see more footage of Cal's incredible experience in China visit www.wnst.net and click on wnstv)
Cal Ripken Jr. is one of the last great heroes of our times, and my dad's number one hero, that is why he was chosen as my father's inspiration for RALLY CAPS. My dad's passion for baseball began as a child and only increased when he realized he had two daughters who could drill a wiffleball better than most of the boys in the hood. Some of my greatest memories are cheering with Wild Bill and high-fiving my dad and sister as the BUDWEISER BEER MUG filled four times on the Orioles' scoreboard after Pat Kelly, Terry Crowley or my number one all time favorite Oriole Eddie Murray hit a clutch grandslam in the bottom of the ninth in Memorial Stadium. We were never speechless as children, we talked baseball.
To help pay for college I worked at a happenin' bar called Bohager's Bar and Grill, where regulars included Mark McGwire (when he played in Baltimore), Brady Anderson, Jeffrey Hammonds (loved him), Damon Buford and Paul Molitor...I served all of them, could even tell you what they drank, but I don't want to bore anyone...One player who NEVER made an appearance at Bohager's was Cal Ripken Jr. - Not even when Keanu Reeves' band Dogstar played and Keanu Reeves himself invited Ripken personally to attend the concert. Ripken's staff showed up, but he stayed at home with his family. (I hung out with Keanu Reeves and company:)) I loved the fact that he was a truly committed family man, so when my dad wanted Cal Ripken Jr. to be a fundamental part of RALLY CAPS, that was okay with me. Cal Ripken Jr. represents the American work ethic, he went out day after day, game after game and did his job. My son has been working since he was 12 months old through frustration and difficulties to learn to speak and comprehend language.
Jordan is MY hero.
In this video, Ripken speaks "The Language of Baseball" to a group of Chinese children who do not speak or understand English. Ripken gets down on his hands and knees to indicate and model for them the appropriate techniques in order to overcome the language barrier.
My dad has done the same thing with Jordan. When Jordan was younger and could not speak English, my dad would take him to the park and pitch him a few balls, a hit might as well have been a sentence. As Jordan got older, they would go to the batting cage, sometimes my dad would steal Jordan's coins to have more turns than him (just kidding..kind of)and they would laugh about that and communicate. Every summer we go to Baltimore and my step-father Eddie and Jordan bond by playing baseball in the backyard, shagging flyballs and working on his batting stance. Last summer, Jordan attended a baseball camp in Baltimore, his first time in a group situation with only English-speaking kids. By the end of camp, his teammates were screaming in Italian, "Non tirare la mazza!" (Don't throw the bat:)) and Jordan was yelling in English, "I got it!"
It's just amazing how a ball, a bat and a glove can provide a bridge for better communication.