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 composed a letter to the governor asking for Mr. Schaefer's tickets.
"It never hurts to try," said his mother, Maureen. "That's what we told him."
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 [Oriole president], 'We've got to help this little guy out.' "
Today, Ben -- who tapes Oriole games on the family VCR, then rises at 6 a.m. to watch the tape before classes at Indian Creek Middle School in Crownsville -- is a guest at a news conference at the State House, where, he says, he will be thrilled to meet the governor.
If he does happen to get Opening Day tickets, Ben said, "I think I'll take either my mother or my father."