Mike Stirn, a 32-year-old carpenter from Sykesville, tried to buy a $20 commemorative Cal Ripken baseball at last night's historic baseball game at Camden Yards. They were sold out.
But in the bottom of the sixth inning, a ball Ripken hit for a home run bounced into his lap, and Stirn became an instant celebrity.
"I've been to about 80 games this season, and I haven't had a ball come within 10 feet of me," said Stirn, a season-ticket holder.
A man approached him within minutes and offered him 25 crisp, new $100 bills.
He refused, amid chants of "Keep that ball! Keep that ball!" from more than a thousand of the fans around him.
"We'll see where the ball takes me tonight," said Stirn, who attracted media from around the country moments after turning down the offer.
Orioles officials quickly escorted him out of Section 84 in left field, took him to the picnic area behind the grandstand, and allowed cameras to set up an impromptu news conference.
"It was bouncing over my way and I grabbed it," Stirn said of the home run that sent Camden Yards into a frenzy. The homer was a half-inning after a 5-minute, 20-second ovation that the Orioles shortstop received for officially tying Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 consecutive games.
Stirn seemed uncomfortable with the sudden attention. He left the stadium with his wife, Tracey, in the top of the ninth with a police escort.
Asked whether he would give the ball to Ripken, Stirn replied: "Me and Cal could work something out. I'm open for suggestions."
Ripken, whose homer was his second in two games, seemed open to the idea of acquiring the historic ball.
"It would be nice to have it," Ripken said. "With memorabilia and physical objects, it's always nice because at times, you can pick it and feel it all over again. So, yes, it would be nice to have."