Cal Ripken SR. Foundation

The Baltimore Sun

The Marriott Waterfront mezzanine was a mob scene. About 800 folks filled the floor for the cocktail hour of the fifth annual Aspire Gala benefiting the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.

"It warms my heart that, in an economy like this, we still sell out," said foundation executive director Steve Salem. "That's not an easy thing to do."

Among the guests were almost 50 current and former pro baseball players and coaches, including the evening's honorees, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer and former University of Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz.

"When they first told me about the award, I was very flattered and honored, but it's even more impressive than I thought it would be," Holtz said.

Meanwhile, Moyer said he was happy to be back in Charm City, where he played for the Orioles from 1993-1995.

"I have a lot of great memories of being here in Baltimore," he said.

"Being associated with the Ripken family is very special and it's a very special part of my career."

Moyer wasn't alone in that feeling.

"[I'll come to] anything to do with the Cal Ripken family. I can recall Senior and all the times we had back in the day when the Orioles could really play some baseball," said former Oriole Ken Singleton.

"My buddy Cal called," said former Bird Eddie Murray, explaining his presence. "Any time his dad is mentioned, with us in Baltimore, anything to do with Cal Sr., you just appear. He meant that much to us."

For the Ripkens, it was all about the disadvantaged kids the foundation tries to help.

"With Dad, he was never happier than when he was helping a kid, or he was teaching," said foundation co-founder Bill Ripken.

"It's so great that so many people realize that our young people do mean something," said his mother, Vi Ripken, as she scanned the room.

At Sullivan's , it was a knock-out

A slam-bang party in the heart of Baltimore last week as some 400 folks squeezed into Sullivan's -- the city 's newest upscale steakhouse --for its grand- opening , VIP party, Guests included Cal Ripken Jr.; former Baltimore Colt Tom Matte; Harbor Bank's CEO Joe Haskins; Center Stage's managing director Debbie Chinn; the Baltimore Convention Center's head honcho Peggy Daidakis ; Downtown Partner- ship president Kirby Fowler; and BACVA president Tom Noonan --just to reel off a few.

The 1940's style eatery ---located in the Verizon building -- is apparently named after the world's first official heavyweight boxing champ , John L. Sulli- van . That would explain the restaurants signature martini the Knock Out, a pineapple-infused orange vodka served with a twist.

WELL-DRESSED PARTY-GOERS Guest who came to a Sunday afternoon soiree at Ruth Shaw and thought they might be coerced into doing a little shopping were in for a surprise . The entire Cross Keys boutique had been cleared of all its upscale designer goods. The only thing on the shelves were the drinks and hors d'oeuvres being served. But you didn't need anything hanging on the racks to check out the current trends . All you needed to do was peruse the supremely chic guests --- like Suzi Cordish, Pam Malester , Elizabeth Aneck- stein , Rose Carpenter and Terry Morgenthaler.

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