Day 6 “Magical”

Olga at CrossFit
Olga at CrossFit

One of the issues that I knew I would run into at the beginning and the end of the baseball season was finding games to go to; my goal is to go to a game a day or at least average a game a day or more during the length of the season which will end on the final play of the World Series.  My main objective is to blog about something with regards to the fan experience of baseball everyday, no exceptions!  I am on Day 6 and I have gone to 6 games thus far but none the last 3 days, I went to the Minnesota Twins spring training complex Monday and Tuesday of this week, today I had to get some repairs done to my car and that took most of the day, I was very thankful that it didn’t cost that much; I have a budget for car repairs and didn’t want to blow it all at once!  I did have coffee with Olga Perkins at Starbucks; I met her at CrossFit Salvation in Cape Coral, I needed a baseball story to fill in on these days that a game wasn’t happening and I was planning ahead last week when I was working out and explaining to people at the CrossFit “box” what I was doing and Olga started telling me about her experience with the Cal Ripken World Series and being a host family for the Mexican team, I thought she would be the perfect person to profile and she was gracious enough to share it with me.If you want to know more about CrossFit, click on the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CrossFit.

Olga is the type of person that doesn’t beat around the bush, she is very straight forward, she says what she means and you don’t have to wonder where she is coming from, I liked her immediately, I could be blunt and direct with her and she with me.  She is 49 years old going on 50 she said, with a little bit of disbelief in her tone, she has bad knees and she has to be careful when she is working out so she doesn’t tweak them, in her mind I am sure she has said, “…if I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself”, however she thinks, she looks great and in shape, she works very hard in CrossFit doing the daily “WOD”, all CrossFitters know what that that stands for (to me it stands for WTF did I get myself into but to everyone else it stands for “Workout Of the Day, “the” is apparently silent) I am a relative newbie and have only been doing it for the past 4 months and I still call it “wood” at times, when it is pronounced “wad”… Don’t ask me why “wad”…

Her husband of 25 years (they only dated for a few months before marrying), Bob and her recently moved to Cape Coral full time from Baltimore, Maryland; they had a rental property down here for years and thought it was a good time to move, one daughter Rachel, 23, recently graduated from Mississippi State and Shelby, 22, is graduating from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in the spring, where she will immediately jump on a bike for 70 days and peddle from Baltimore to Seattle for 4K for Cancer (very cool Shelby, very cool), besides her daughters not needing her as much, the company she worked for was sold and she didn’t want to work for the new one.  Need to give her daughter Rachel a shout out also, I was wondering why she ended up at Mississippi State from Maryland, her Mom said she was all set to go Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., but she went down to Mississippi with Habitat for Humanity to build houses for her senior service project in high school, falls in love with the area and decides to enroll at MSU, well done Rachel, your mother is very proud!

Olga is the 4th of eight kids she has a fraternal twin, (fraternal twins are developed from two different eggs fertilized by two different sperm cells, while identical twins are developed from a single fertilized egg that split, I didn’t know what fraternal vs identical meant and had to Google it), she says she learned to love all sports at a very young age, her Dad was passionate about the Baltimore Orioles.  When the Orioles came to Baltimore in 1954 her father created a scrapbook and collected all the information about the team that was published for that entire year starting with the 1954 Opening Day program, she still has the scrapbook and might one day give it to the team.

Olga was a Oriole season ticket holder for years and knows former MLB player Billy Ripken and has talked with his brother Cal Ripken Jr., for the uninitiated Cal started 2,632 consecutive games for the Orioles, which equates to 17 years without missing a start.  Cal started Ripken Baseball whose goal is to grow the love of baseball from a more grassroots level and every year they play the Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen, Maryland.  10 years ago was the first series and they needed host families for the players.  Olga volunteered her family to take 2 players.  When they came to inspect her home they asked if she would take 4, she said yes but insisted that she get English speaking players and was assigned the Dominican Republic.  Her team assignment was a surprise and she didn’t know what she was going to do because of the language barrier, she was relieved when another family “threw a fit” because they wanted the Dominicans.  The assignments were swapped to placate the other family and she was given Mexican players…

If you would like to learn more about Cal Ripken, Jr. click on the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cal_Ripken,_Jr. more about the Cal Ripken Baseball click here: https://www.ripkenbaseball.com/, Billy Ripken, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Ripken,

Nestor Lopez
Nestor Lopez

She was worried, how was she going to communicate with these kids for 19 days?  To her relief 2 of the players spoke some English, Nestor Lopez and Chucky, Jose (who they nicknamed Hollywood because his smile lit up a room) and Jesus did not.  She also didn’t have boys and didn’t realize how much they could eat!  Her family was responsible for all 4 of them and she was considered their mother since parents didn’t travel and if they did players weren’t allowed to stay with them. Another issue she had to address early on was that of flushing toilet paper down the toilet, in Mexico you don’t do it, you throw it in a trash can.  Her daughters enjoyed having the boys around and bonded instantly with them, Rachel knew a little Spanish and would sing/perform the “Dora the Explorer” theme song in Spanish at Nestor’s insistence, performing it on the bridge that led to their loft area above the living room in a concert type fashion.

As Olga described and explained all the things that her family needed to do with the boys, her eyes would light up and she would get excited then repeat after everything she said, “it was such a magical time”.  She still keeps in contact with the boys through Facebook.  Mexico dominated the initial Cal Ripken World Series, Nestor was the tournament MVP, Jose was a pitcher, Jesus played in the outfield and Chucky (nicknamed because he looked like the doll) played 2nd base.  At one point in the championship game Jose struggled pitching and his coached pulled him and replaced him with Nestor, Rachel got on top of the dugout and started singing the “Dora the Explorer” theme song in Spanish which made the kids smile and relaxed them, Sage Brown, currently with ESPN saw this and commented on air that she caught a “magical” moment.

During non playing days and in the evenings host families would get together for cook outs and spend time together with all the players, Olga said she hosted Mexican players for 5 years but the very first year was the one she cherishes the most, it was a magical time since it was all so new and her girls and “her” 4 boys bonded, laughed and played together.  When Mexico was awarded the Championship trophy by Cal Ripken, Nestor wanted a picture with his parents, Cal said these aren’t your parents, but Nestor insisted and said that they were and had Olga come down and get a picture with them. Jose was interviewed and when asked why they called him “Hollywood” he said he didn’t know, everyone else did since he was sporting his million dollar smile when being questioned.  Cal Ripken now refers to Olga as Miss Mexico when he sees her.

As we were finishing up, Olga got onto Facebook and showed me pictures of what the boys currently look like, Chucky has grow up and no longer looks like the doll and Nestor, Hollywood and Jesus are developing into fine young men, it might have been only 19 days but Olga felt a sadness after they left and will always cherish that time and those moments. If you want to read more about Olga her daughter Rachel wrote a fun piece about her, click on the following link: http://www.xovain.com/how-to/looking-like-my-mother#awesm=~owpVWgrG1au92R.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014” which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help http://www.baseballbuddha.com/sponsor.html .  Please also share this on your Facebook page and Twitter, I appreciate all the help I can get!

3 thoughts on “Day 6 “Magical”

  1. Fun to just talk with people … but, just had a thought. Why not stop at a school to talk with students – grade school/Jr. High age. Find the baseball fans and/or playing … get their thoughts. Maybe??!! I really do enjoy the reads.

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