Saturday, September 22, 2012



Recently I posted a picture of Cal Ripken Jr., one of my great heroes and a legend in the baseball world, and myself on Facebook. If you don’t know who Cal Ripken, Jr. is, you have to Google him, and you’ll soon see the legend he is in the Baltimore area and in the world of baseball.
One day before I came here a few weeks ago, I wrote an email to him. I was very sick, and I decided to write an email. Here are a few excerpts from my email to Cal:

My name is Ami McCarty.
I desperately hope this email gets to the right person. I don't know who to get in touch with, but I am sitting here and praying that the right person would get this email. You have no idea what it would mean if you could please put it in the hands of someone who could read this and make a difference.
When I was a 12 year old, I remember coming to Orioles baseball games to watch my idol, Cal Ripken, Jr. play.
He was my hero.
I sit here, a 35 year old woman, and as big of a fan as ever.
I will make this short and sweet, but only because I'm very ill and sitting here, up because I can't sleep and I'm very sick. I could write Mr. Ripken the longest letter, telling him how my dad and I would come, every year, to Orioles Park at Camden Yard, from the time I was a little girl, up until I got married and moved to Texas.
What I pray that is conveyed in this email and that I want Mr. Cal Ripken Jr. to know is that he helped bring me and my dad together in a way that really is indescribable. My dad is my hero. Cal Ripken Jr. is the only other man I know that has the work ethic of my dad! My dad would bring me to Oriole Park at Camden Yards several times a year, to watch my favorite team and my favorite short stop, Cal Ripken Jr., play! Watching the O's and Cal brought me and my dad together.
Our favorite memory is the one where I had made a sign for Cal back in 1993. He was playing catch, and he saw my sign and came over and signed my baseball card and he treated me, his number one fan, with such respect. He cared about his fans, and I'll never forget thinking to myself that no matter where I ended up in life, that I would treat people the way this man...this most famous and wonderful superstar, treated me....a young girl. I was just a kid, but his signing my baseball card and talking to me and being so nice to his fans rubbed off on me. I saw many other "superstars" treat their fans horribly, and they were no where near as talented or as special as Mr. Ripken. Cal Ripken Jr. needs to know PLEASE is that he changed my life when he signed that baseball card. He taught me how to treat others. He taught me respect and kindness and just how to be a human being.
When I graduated from High School, my dad gave me Cal Ripken Jr.'s Rookie Cards as my gift. Most 18 year old girls would have wanted a car or a trip. Not me. That Topps Traded card and the others I have are my most priceless and prized possessions.
I dreamed of having kids, a son or daughter, to pass all off my baseball cards to. But I became very ill, and I have severe stomach issues and that most likely won't ever happen because of my health. I live now in Texas with my wonderful husband, but travel extensively to John's Hopkins in Baltimore. Mostly because I know Baltimore and that Hopkins is the most amazing place.
What made me write this is that I'm coming to town for an emergency trip to Hopkins. I'm leaving to fly out Sunday and I will be in Baltimore and at the hospital on Tuesday. I am excited just to drive by the stadium on my way in. Just the memories that are evoked when I drive by give me chills and makes me happy and it makes me think of a simpler time in my life...before life got hard and I was sick and dad was old!
I know this isn't possible, but I'm going to ask anyway because Mr. Ripken saw my sign when he was playing catch and he came over and signed my card with a smile when I didn't think THAT day would ever happen. I believe with my whole heart that he'd care enough to want to read this email. I would love nothing more in my life then to have the chance to meet him again while I'm home having treatment at John's Hopkins. If there was SOME way I could meet him. Just shake his hand. My dad is now 64 years old and isn't in the best health either, but he takes care of me when I have to come home to Hopkins for treatment. I know I'm his little girl and he's still my hero. It would mean so much if SOMEHOW (and I realize this is a long shot) that I could bring my dad to meet Mr. Ripken in person. I would just LOVE to have that memory while we are both together and could just really enjoy it…..

Well, I was sitting in the doctors office, very down, and Mr. Ripken’s assistant called and told me that they wanted to meet me on September 19th. I was stunned.
To make a Long story short, My dad and I went to his office in Baltimore, and He met with me. His assistant was so wonderful, and he told me that they receive hundreds of letters a day, but when he saw mine, he knew there was something different about me and they wanted to met me.
When Cal walked into the conference room, he actually hugged me. He shook my dad’s hands. I was so excited. We sat and talked for 45 minutes. He was so kind and he asked me all about my health. He was concerned. He told me I had a positive outlook, and immediately I got to tell him that I could stay positive because of Jesus Christ who is my Savior, and because of my husband and family.
Mr. Ripken was so classy. At one point during the meeting, when one man interrupted and came into the office not knowing we were there, He actually said, “Please don’t interrupt. I have a very important meeting in here.” I felt SO important. So did my dad.
My favorite moment was when I shared with him how he signed my card and how as a little girl and teenager, he showed me how to treat people. He teared up, and he told me that us meeting like this made him realize that all of the little things he did like signing my card with class and blowing on the card to make sure that it didn’t smear were important. He said that he didn’t realize that people noticed those things. He was tearful and said thank you for telling him that. I began to cry a little too.
All of the while, my dad was watching. It was neat seeing my heroes together. Then Cal began talking baseball. My dad and him talked and he LOVED my dad’s bat. He said that it was just almost the same bat that Cal had used himself. It was like talking to your BEST friend. He told us all about his endeavors now. We asked him who the person he dreaded hitting against most was…I’ll tell you that if you ask me!!  We talked and talked and talked and just enjoyed everything.
When I asked if he could sign things on the phone with his assistant, his assistant said that he has a lot of people take advantage of him, so I could have one or two things to sign. I wanted him to sign a picture of me and dad and then my dad’s bat. We brought a few more things for him to sign, but when he began to sign things, he said, “Ami, I’ll sign ANYTHING you want me too.” And he did. He signed two balls, two pictures and my dad’s bat. He even offered us his tickets, which are front row seats at the Orioles game, he said that He’d be happy to give them to us next year, and he said that he’s going to find one of his special cards for me that is very rare and kindof uncirculated, and he said all we have to do is email his personal assistant, and next year we can have the tickets and he’ll look for that card for me. I know he’ll do it, too. He was so great.
At the end of our meeting, we took pictures and I gave him a letter at the end with pictures of me and dad and tracts from my three favorite churches…Church on the Rock in Texarkana where I have attended for 12 years, Woodlawn Baptist Church where I grew up, and Freedom Baptist Church in Virginia where my Brother in law and sister in law lead. I told him that he would be welcome there. Below here is a copy of the letter I left with him. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to say everything that I wanted to say to him while I met with him. SO, I wrote this letter below and it said it all.
Cal wished he could stay, but he had a big event that evening and had to go prepare. He asked to give me a hug, and of course I did. He was so wonderful.
The thing I regret most is that I didn’t get to have my BIGGEST hero meet Cal, and that’s my husband Kevin. But this memory was one I share with my dad. I got to get Kevin a hat, and a baseball signed by Cal, and he has a picture of me and Kevin together.
The most important thing was that I got to tell Cal about Jesus and I got to share the gospel by telling him that I accepted Christ as my Savior, AND he got to have three tracts from three great Bible preaching churches.
I am so blessed. Even though I go through sickness and pain, I also have a very blessed life. God gives me the desires of my heart. I loved Cal Ripken Jr. before, and I love him and respect him more now. My dad and I have the best memories and this is a bonding experience I will never forget.
Below is my letter Cal got to read with my pictures and tracts. It’s kindof long, but I hope you will read it.
I love you all!!

Dear Mr. Ripken, September 19, 2012
Thank you for the time that you took to meet me and my father today. I don’t know what all we are going to get a chance to say to you, or what I’ll be able to say since I know myself and know that I will be star-struck! So, I thought I would write you a few things, just for you to know and hopefully you’ll know how appreciative I am. I am sure we will probably talk about my health and things, so I thought that I would write you a note and tell you a few memories I have and maybe you’ll enjoy reading them. I know you have a daughter, and I’m sure you understand how precious the relationship between a daughter and her dad is.
My dad is the hardest worker I know. I am married very happily, and I love my husband so much. He is the best man I know, as he takes care of me every single day in this sickness I have. He works hard and we have a special marriage, but this is not about him. It’s about my dad. I remember growing up and watching my father work. I remember how there were times as a telephone lineman that he worked so hard that I didn’t get to see him for days. He is a Marine, and I would look forward to him tucking us in at night with his signature salute. But those nights that there was a storm, or if there was a bad accident in the area, I remember my dad working late and I remember praying for him to be save. I know that he worked hard for my mom, me and my 3 sisters. He didn’t have to work like he did, but he chose to, so that we could have a better life. He put us all through Christian school and he paid for college. He was everything a dad should be.
Part of that better life included going to baseball games. I played softball when I was a kid, and I remember dad instilling a love of the game in me. He never pushed me to play. I just loved to. Probably because he played. He was #15 on his telephone league, and I remember always wanting to be #15. When I was 10 years old, I remember very distinctly sitting at Memorial Stadium. My dad played 3rd base, so I loved watching 3rd base. I was left-handed so I knew I would never be a third baseman. I remember dad telling me, “Watch the short-stop. He’s Cal Ripken, Jr., and he’s the best short stop I’ve ever seen.”
From that day on, I wanted to be a short stop. I wanted to be #15, but I also wanted to be #8. I was torn. From that day on, I had two heroes.
The love of the game grew. I kept playing, and dad and I grew closer.¬¬ Every year, as soon as the tickets would go on sale. Dad would sit down and we’d pick out as many games as dad knew we could afford. Usually, we tried to go to about 8 or 10. We’d get a day game or two each year, but I loved evening games just as much. I remember picking out the tickets with him. We started out at Memorial Stadium, but Camden Yards was my dream park. Oh, I loved it. I got to pick who we watch the O’s play against. I would pick the Yankees, Mariners and Tigers mostly. We’d get the cheap seats, but we had our rituals on game day. We left our home at 3 p.m to make it to the stadium in time for batting practice. We would get into the stadium and try to catch home run batting practice balls in right field while watching the pitchers stretch and the outfielders catch. Then once the gates would open, I would head to try to get autographs or get close to watch you play catch. Dad would go to left field, and he would try to catch batting practice balls. Sometimes I would join him. I’ll never forget once I joined him and caught a line drive. It was cool to be the only girl in the midst of all boys, and I was the one who caught the line drive ball in my glove!!!
At one game, dad and I together caught 4 balls during batting practice. We were on cloud nine. I was so excited and it was a fun night we were having together. We were in our seats and there was this family – a mom and dad and three little boys all with baseball gloves. We were in the upper level, and these little boys kept hoping that they would catch a foul ball. Dad and I looked at each other, knowing that would never happen, and just we just gave them the baseballs we had gotten that night at batting practice. The boys’ face lit up, and we were so happy we could give them a little piece of what God blessed us with.
We have many stories and memories like that. So many I could fill a book, and I do journal about those times because I don’t want to forget. The only thing we wish would have happened is what we call the “DREAM.” We always dreamed of walking into the stadium and having a fly ball from batting practice come to us right on Eutaw Street as we entered the stadium. Believe me, it came close to happening, but we never quite got one. We have the memories of those times.
I would usually want to try to get autographs. The first sign I made was for you, and you didn’t disappoint me one bit. I’ll never forget. You signed my card. You used my Sharpie and you even blew on my card. I love that memory. You smiled and I’ll never forget your kindness. Some of the other players on the Orioles were not nearly as talented as you, but they sure thought they were. They had prideful egos. I have no idea where many of them are today. The one that was the real superstar had the most humble attitude. I can’t ever forget that, and I never will. It’s a lesson that I passed on in life. I passed it on to my nephew, Luke. My husband and I could never have children because of my health conditions, and so I actually passed on my card to my nephew. I gave it to him because he is SO into baseball and into you and he loved my story. It hangs on his wall and I know he’ll cherish it forever.
I got your rookie cards as a graduation present and I had a life sized poster of you hanging on my wall as a teen. I remember crying the night you broke the streak. I was in college in South Carolina and was broken hearted I wasn’t with dad that night. I followed you and watched you year after year, season after season. The last game I went to by myself with dad was the year I got married in 2000.
Mr. Ripken, You were what I aspired to be like. You and my dad.
You both instilled that work ethic in me. I worked in high school up and after college as a teacher up until because of my illness, I had to stop teaching.
As I am older now, I sit back and think about life and what is important. I watch my dad, who worked so hard for me and my family, not be able to walk due to arthritis and injuries he got from his physical job that he had as he provided for his family. I think of life and how hard it can be, but I also sit and think of how wonderful it is, too. I promise you that I will wrap myself up in the memory I made today with you and my dad. It will get me through hard times and help me to remember how to treat everyone with love, dignity and respect.
Mr. Ripken, when you read this letter, I want you to know what a class act you are. Thank you for meeting me and taking the time to read my email and care enough to respond. Thank you to Mr. Glenn Valis, also. You both are top notch. I also have admired your brother Billy, ¬¬¬¬too.
I have been sick for 14 years. My husband has taken care of me all of these years and is a fan of yours, too. I feel terrible for not telling you more about him! He is a true hero as well, caring for his sick wife who was not nearly as sick as I am now. He would have loved to meet you but is so happy for me to have this opportunity. Unfortunately when I have treatment, he has to work so that I can have insurance!  Please know that he is a huge fan. He would want you to know that.
I don’t know what we will have talked about and what your perspective of me will be once you meet me, but I hope you come away with knowing that I love my dad. He’s the hardest worker I know. You come in a very close second!!  I hope you know that I love my husband. He’s the best person I know for so many reasons.
I also want to share that I’m a strong believer in Jesus Christ and I accepted him as my personal Savior years ago. My happiness in life is not dependent on whether I’m sick or well, have money or don’t, or have a good day or one in which I can’t eat and am throwing up. My happiness is dependent on my relationship with my Savior and my relationship with those I love. The struggles in this life are temporal. It’s how we treat others and what we do with our lives that matter. You taught me that. Thank you.
I know I don’t know you well, but you’re the example of what a HERO should be. Please know that seeing you and my dad together made my day or actually it made my year! Struggles like the ones I face are sometimes hard and we wonder why. But I thank God for times like this. This is a moment that will live in my memory for the rest of my life!
If you would, would you read these little papers I’ve included. They are from three churches that have impacted my life. One is from my church in Texas. One is from the church I grew up going to in Bowie, Maryland, and the third is my sister’s church where my mom and dad attend. I know you’d be welcomed as just a regular person visiting if you ever stopped by!  Also I’ve enclosed a picture of me and my dad. I hope it can remind you of all of the fans you have and don’t even know it. You’ve made an impact on SO many lives. I appreciate you.
Thanks again for reading my email and for being my hero. You always will be.
Your Fan,
Ami McCarty