Wednesday night's stadium happening was truly the ultimate party of the year with thousands celebrating for and with Cal Ripken Jr., a much-needed hero for baseball fans and a role model for youngsters.
Parties were held in every nook and cranny of Camden Yards. I feel as if I visited most of them before finding Orioles owner Peter Angelos' "movers and shakers" party on the south side of the warehouse. I am told it was P.W. Feats' Jennifer Lynch who came to the decorating rescue. By the time people began to arrive, the place looked great.
Guests were treated to an array of foods that included smoked salmon, shrimp, cheeses and little chocolate baseballs.
Hundreds of people stopped by, including the high rollers who purchased field seats at $5,000 each to raise more than $1 million for the Cal Ripken/Lou Gehrig's Fund for Neuromuscular Research at Johns Hopkins. And they were among those heaping praise on Angelos for orchestrating such an outstanding week for baseball's newest Iron Man. Not only did Angelos let those 260 extra seats be added to the field, but he paid for visiting dignitaries to fly in from all over the country.
Baseball great Ernie Banks, and his wife, Liz, were among the stars Angelos brought to town for the celebration. And what a gracious man Banks is. He enjoyed all the attention and signed many autographs, as did Rick Dempsey, Earl Weaver, Rich Dauer, Don Buford and Joe DiMaggio.
Others singing praises for Angelos were the handsome chairman of the Toronto Blue Jays Peter Widdrington; Dick McCready, chairman of the board and CEO of REM Enterprises, whose mother died from Lou Gehrig's disease; Donald Fehr, the players' union attorney; Pete Manos, president of Giant Foods, with his daughters Cindy and Helene; Rick Aimquist, vice president and general manager of the Mid Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Co.
I didn't see film star Tom Selleck, but I am assured by those who did that he looks as good as ever. Jeffrey Bernstein, the son of Pat and David Bernstein, pointed out soap star Don Diamont to me -- Dave's the chairman of Duty Free International and part owner of the Orioles. Diamont plays Brad on Cal and Kelly Ripken's favorite soap opera, "The Young and the Restless." Others who came to witness baseball history being made included Baltimore's own star director Barry Levinson; basketball star David Robinson; Crown Central's Henry and Dot Rosenberg, who had as their skybox guests Virginia Gov. George Allen and Naval Academy superintendent Adm. Charles R. Larsen and his wife, Sally.
I enjoyed chatting with former O's manager Earl Weaver, his wife and Maryanna, and her daughter, Kim Ross, who works with Ken Nigro and the Baseball Fantasy Camps; singer Joan Jett, was there dressed in black leather and tacky black pants; State Sens. John Arnick and George Della; former Merry-Go-Round executive Michael Sullivan; Greater Baltimore Committee's Don Hutchinson; Wayne Gioioso, of Gioioso Investments, a real-estate investment company, and his wife, Judy; Ron Shapiro, Cal's attorney; Brian Davis, one of the owners of McCafferty's in Mount Washington; retired police officer Philip Farace, now a special assistant for the Orioles; and his wife, Audrey, the concierge for the club house level; O's owner Steve Geppi, and Kathleen and Jim Kelly, president of McCready Marketing.
It was also good to hear the Dixieland music played by the Gang Plank Five. Band members told me they had just celebrated their 15th year at Phillips Harborplace. Speaking of music, it is said Ripken is a John Tesh fan and that's why his song, "Day One" was played when Cal tied and set the record. Tesh will be in town Sept. 16 -- maybe Cal can take in the concert.