Ripken came through for ailing boy, but does he qualify as a real hero?

LETTERS

October 01, 1995

While much applause and acclaim has been directed to Cal Ripken Jr., the ballplayer, I would like an opportunity to consider Cal Ripken, the man. A member of our church family is an 8-year-old baseball fan who is very ill with leukemia and every fTC day is a struggle.

Luke happens to worship No. 8, Cal Ripken, the ballplayer. As Luke's birthday approached this year, his grandmother sent Cal an invitation to Luke's birthday, explaining the fragility of the young boy's life.

Given Cal's schedule this year, a visit did not seem likely and she didn't mention this invitation to anyone else.

As Luke celebrated his birthday, there was an unexpected knock on the door. In the doorway stood Cal Ripken, complete with a bag of baseball equipment for souvenirs.

Not interested in making a cameo appearance, Mr. Ripken spent a memorable 2 1/2 hours with the boys and girls.

I may be typical of the disgruntled professional sports fan of today. I do not look for heroes or role models among professional athletes.

Barry Bonds may hit more home runs, Juan Gonzalez may hit longer home runs, but Cal Ripken, the man, has hit the most memorable home run of the heart.

I salute Cal Ripken for his humility, his humanity, his commitment and his responsibility to his family and community.

We can only hope that more people, ballplayers and fans, will follow his example. And as my young sons join the throngs of baseball fans who recognize and applaud the baseball player wearing number 8, I look forward to the day that I can explain to them how special he really is.

Dave Bond

Westminster

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Until I read Peter A. Jay's commentary on Cal Ripken and talked to several others, I thought I was the only one who wondered, "What is all the excitement about?"

Cal is a professional athlete who is paid very well to do a job and does it faithfully, but not spectacularly. He is entitled to some praise, but to call him a hero, have a parade, have TV news swamping him, that is indeed overblown.

He is a performer entertaining the public, nothing more. If that is a hero, what are those who risk their lives to save others? How about a Lindbergh, a Mother Teresa, a Jonas Salk? When Cal is given such adulation, what is left for a real hero? . . .

Charles Block

Westminster

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