These 2 girls are on the ball for the O's


Danielle Caplan and Jaymi Kim could not be more different -- or more similar

May 11, 2007|By Janet Gilbert | Janet Gilbert,Special to the Sun

Danielle Caplan and Jaymi Kim couldn't be more different. Or more alike.

Consider how they came to be Orioles ball girls.

It was the week of March 4 when Caplan, 24, of Marriottsville, was sitting at the kitchen table with her father, who was reading the newspaper.

"He said, `hey, here's something about open tryouts for Orioles ball girl positions. Next Saturday. You should do it.'" Caplan said.

"I thought, why not?" she said.

Caplan characterizes her dad, a former college baseball player, as a positive influence on her athletic endeavors.

Caplan played varsity softball and soccer at Liberty High School in Eldersburg. She attended Catonsville Community College, where she played softball for a season and was a member of the lacrosse team that captured back-to-back JUCO national championships.

Caplan transferred to Towson University and graduated in December 2005 with a degree in sports medicine and exercise science.

She works night shifts as a nursing assistant in the emergency room at Northwest Hospital in Randallstown, and in her free time, plays on three softball teams. Recently, she's taken up golf.

Cut to Kim, 26, who, on March 9, was living in Columbia and working as a law clerk to the Honorable Alexander Williams, Jr., at the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Southern Division.

While looking online for Orioles tickets for some folks in the office, she came upon an advertisement for ball boy-ball girl tryouts, to be held the very next day.

"I thought, `I'm not going to tell anyone, I'm just going to go,' " Kim said.

"I'll bet I'll get on the field, anyway," she added.

After graduating from the University of Michigan in 2002 with a degree in political science and a secondary teaching certificate, Kim moved back to Maryland to attend law school at the University of Maryland School of Law just a few blocks from Camden Yards. An avid Orioles fan, Kim always made time to go and watch games.

"I would see the ball boys and the ball girls, and I'd think, I'd love to do that," said Kim, "but I always thought they were somebody's daughter or neighbor or friend [affiliated with the Orioles]."

At Hammond High School, Kim played softball and competed in track and field all four years. She went to the state championship in shot put during her senior year. Also in her senior year, Kim made the all-county softball team and was selected as Hammond's MVP.

But her parents were not all that involved in her athletic pursuits.

"For my parents, sports weren't even on the radar," she said. Kim, a Korean-American, explained that many in the Korean culture seemed more impressed by a student being active in a church or achieving academically than by excelling in sports.

But Kim loved softball, as did Caplan. Which brings us to the "alike" part of their stories.

Both girls got to the tryouts and recalled feeling a little daunted. There were 76 applicants for five positions.

"There were so many people, I thought, `this is ridiculous, there's no way in the world I'm going to be chosen,'" Caplan said.

"I'm usually outgoing, but I just sat by myself, waiting to be called," said Kim.

Both girls filled out an application, fielded some balls, and then answered a few questions on-camera. When asked to name her favorite Oriole player, Caplan spoke about Cal Ripken Jr., and how she appreciated the fact that he was an Oriole for his entire career.

Kim spoke about Melvin Mora, who she says has demonstrated a commitment to Maryland, raising his family here and being active in the community.

Common themes of commitment, work ethic and community involvement dictated both girls' choices; reflecting something of their own characters. Both were called back for an interview.

Both got the job.

"My grandmother, she seemed the most excited of all - she called everyone she knew," said Caplan.

"I remember it very distinctly," said Caplan's grandmother, Maxine Caplan of Owings Mills. "My family came over for a holiday dinner, and Danielle said `I have some good news for you, I have another job.' She puts in my hand this badge with a picture on it - I didn't know what it was. She tells the story, and I screamed. Everybody's excited.

"I'm absolutely an Orioles fan," she added. "Is there another team?"

Kim's older sister and her husband came to watch the opening game, and then called her later to tell her excitedly how they had seen her on ESPN's Sports Center.

Caplan and Kim work with the other two ball girls and one ball boy, divvying up the Orioles' home team schedule. They arrive at the park 90 minutes before game time and suit up.

They help with pre-game activities and then sit in foul territory either on the first base or third base sideline and retrieve foul balls that were hit on the ground.

"That first game of the season, I had my dad take me to the local ball field and hit me ground balls," Caplan said. "Even now, I've got to get that first ground ball out of the way, and then I'm not nervous.

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