I arrived in Charlotte on April 4, 1980 with all my belongings in a U-Haul and my 1973 Datsun in tow. I spent one night on the couch of an old hometown cronie before moving into my new digs and starting a new job the next day. He took me to see the Charlotte Orioles AA club. My first night in town was Opening Night.
Around third base moved a graceful creature. He was young, but already polished and destined for stardom. The program said number eight was Cal Ripkin, Jr. His dad was in the organization. I couldn't take my eyes off him. What a first impression.
I returned to old Crockett Park often that summer. New in town, I found comfort there. Cal and the O's, as they were called, contended all season. He had countless clutch hits and made dazzling plays in the field. He neither tired nor rested. It seemed even then as if he'd never miss a game. He played hard and always gave his best.
He moved up to Rochester and on to Baltimore where he has remained all these years. I've made Charlotte my home. We're the exception to the rule, I guess, in these days of free agents and headhunters. Someone asked me recently how I could stay in the same place for 19 years. That's easy, I said. It's not the same place. Charlotte has changed dramatically. I guess Baltimore and baseball have changed just as much as Cal has remained a constant.
It was noted at Joe Dimaggio's recent passing that he brought his best to the ballpark every day. Late in his career, he said he still played hard because every day there is apt to be some child in the stands who has never before seen him play. That's the way Cal plays. That's the way I try to live. You get only one chance to make a first impression. Like every day is Opening Night.
Craig "Funky" Fulton
Dear Faithful to the Point of Obsessed Reader,
It is with great sadness that I must announce the temporary end to the ASK ALSO column. Why, you ask between hysterical sobs of grief, is the ASK ALSO column going away?
Well, it all began ten years ago when the leaders of the North began recruiting for new spies to keep an eye on our brothers to the South. I was young and looking for a little danger, so when they assigned me to Bud Nachman and the Belle Acres Headquarters for the New South, I was ecstatic. But....OK, you're right. This is really farfetched, even for me. The truth of the matter is a company up North offered me a lot more money than I make writing for the Belle Acres Gazette, which by the way is the equivalent to Bud allowing me to buy a beer for $2.25 instead of $2.50.
So, unless some genius invents a way for people to send documents electronically over hundreds of miles, the ASK ALSO column will cease to exist. What's that you say? There is a way to do just what I described? I don't know, I am very good about keeping up with technology and if such a device actually worked I would know about it. Why else do you think I got this cushy technology job up North?
The Interstate? What's that got to do with the price of beans on Sunday? I love all my readers very much, but there's no way I'm going to drive my article from Boston to Charlotte each month! I just.....wait a minute. You mean the Internet. That wonderful place with all the naked pictures. But how will that allow me to get my article in under the strict deadlines the Gazette operates under? There are other uses for the Internet? Uses just like I mentioned above? That's fantastic! If you haven't already, disregard this entire article. The column will go on.
Put away those hankies and try not to fall off the edge of your seats as you anxiously await next months edition of the ASK ALSO column.
Jim "Also" Trulby