Young fan turns to governor for Opening Day tickets

April 02, 1992|By Sandy Banisky | Sandy Banisky,Staff Writer

Ben Harrington, who sleeps with Cal Ripken's autograph near his bed, tried to get tickets to Opening Day. His father tried to get him tickets to Opening Day. But scalpers want more than a 10-year-old can afford or a father is willing to pay.

Then Gov. William Donald Schaefer mused during a radio program that he was feeling blue and might not go to Monday's inaugural game.

To Ben, an Annapolis fifth-grader and Oriole fan extraordinaire, that sounded like two tickets up for grabs.

"I figured I had nothing to lose," Ben said yesterday. So he sat at the kitchen table and, on lined school paper, composed a letter to the governor.

It was polite, solicitous -- and filled with chutzpah. In a p.s., he noted his address and telephone number.

"It never hurts to try," said his mother, Maureen. "That's what we told him."

"I wasn't expecting much," said Ben.

But the envelope, marked "Urgent and Personal," landed on the governor's desk.

"When he saw it, he laughed himself silly," Frank Traynor, Mr. Schaefer's press secretary, said yesterday. "He said, 'I've got to meet this kid.' "

The governor -- who has since decided that he will, indeed, go to the ballgame -- carried the letter to a business luncheon Tuesday and read it aloud to the crowd. "The whole room roared," Mr.Traynor said. "He said to Larry Lucchino [the Orioles president], 'We've got to help this little guy out.' "

Today, Ben -- who tapes Orioles games on the family VCR, then rises at 6 a.m. to watch the tape before classes at Indian Creek Middle School in Crownsville -- will be the guest at a press conference at the State House.

He said he's not sure what will happen but "it will be a thrill to meet the governor." And what if he learns he's going to get Opening Day tickets?

L "I think I'll take either my mother or my father," Ben said.

Dear Governor

I am an ordinary ten-year-old boy, and a huge Oriole fan. My home is Annapolis, Maryland. I have tried long and hard to get open day tickets at the Orioles stadium "Camden Yards."

Just yesterday, I heard on the radio that you aren't going to be able to attend the opening day game. That is too bad, I'm sorry. I have also heard that you are a very generous man and I thought you might be able to let me use your tickets. You couldn't imagine how much those tickets would mean to me.

Please respond,

Your fan,

Ben Harrington

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