Cal Ripken, Jr.’s ‘Wild Pitch’ Book Tour Swung by Port Charlotte, Fla.

Cal Ripken, Jr. Greets Fans at the Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Fla., Sunday, March 10, 2013
Cal Ripken, Jr. Greets Fans at the Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Fla., Sunday, March 10, 2013

Timing is everything and two months ago or so when I planned a Tweetup (gathering of Twitter users) during a Tampa Bay Rays spring training game for the organization I work for, I had no idea it would be the same day Cal Ripken, Jr. would be promoting his new children’s book, Wild Pitch.

Cal Ripken, Jr. Signs an Autograph for a Young Fan at the Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Fla., Sunday, March 10, 2013
Cal Ripken, Jr. Signs an Autograph for a Young Fan at the Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Fla., Sunday, March 10, 2013

The book was released March 5, 2013, so Ripken, who co-penned the book with Kevin Cowherd, was fresh on the trial speaking with major news networks and television programs and attending book signings throughout Florida. Sunday, March 10, was his scheduled appearance at the Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla., during a spring training game between the Tampa Bay Rays.

Me with Cal Ripken, Jr. during His 'Wild Pitch' Book Tour Stop at the Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Fla., March 10, 2013
Me with Cal Ripken, Jr. during His ‘Wild Pitch’ Book Tour Stop at the Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Fla., March 10, 2013

The daughter of a high school football coach who earned coach of the year for New York State, I grew up on football. To this day I still don’t know much about baseball but I do appreciate the athleticism and sportsmanship with the game. Importantly, I do know who Cal Ripken, Jr. is. I mean, have you seen his striking blue eyes? Unforgettable! I met the baseball legend in August 2008 when he was in Port Charlotte to announce Ripken Baseball’s new minor league team in Charlotte County (Florida), the Charlotte Stone Crabs. Then in April 2009 I got THIS close to the baseball legend.

Cal Ripken, Jr. Signs 'Wild Pitch', Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Fla., March 10, 2013
Cal Ripken, Jr. Signs ‘Wild Pitch’, Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Fla., March 10, 2013

I’m not so shallow to fall for hypnotizing azure eyes but what also makes Cal Ripken, Jr. memorable is how much of a gentleman he is. He has the charm to make anyone speaking with him feel comfortable and at ease. He listens and seems genuinely interested in what’s being said to him.

Oops! Mr. Ripken Bumped His Head on the Tent Hardware, Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Fla., March 10, 2013
Oops! Mr. Ripken Bumped His Head on the Tent Hardware, Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Fla., March 10, 2013

For the book signing, I stood in line with @MandaGator (she taught me a bit about the baseball culture) for about an hour meet and have books signed. Mr. Ripken signed books for about 10 people at a time then took individual photos with those folks. It was a pretty efficient process as it gave each person a little bit of personal time with him and I imagine it gave his hand a rest.  When it was my turn to snap a photo, he asked if he could take a photo with me! I’m sure he said that to about everyone but it was nice hearing.

I think the next step in the Ripken franchise should be etiquette classes teaching girls and boys to be ladies and gentlemen , or perhaps that’s incorporated in the Ripken Way I’ve heard about.

Are you a Cal Ripken, Jr. fan?

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Jenn

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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