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Hometown Hero

Choptank co-op directors meet MLB legend

May 2024

From left, Kristen Nickerson, Amy Brandt, Donna West, Cal Ripken, Clarice Mathies (Photo Courtesy Choptank Electric Cooperative)

by Gregg MacDonald, Staff Writer

It all began with a plan. Three Choptank Electric Cooperative board directors, and one director’s wife, were going to meet baseball legend Cal Ripken.

“We are all big Orioles fans who spent lots of time at Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards watching Cal play through the years,” says Choptank director Donna Richardson West. “When we heard he would be a speaker at PowerXchange, we were all very excited.”

PowerXchange is an annual convention sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association that gathers electric cooperative members and leaders from across the country to discuss the challenges of the electric cooperative industry. This year’s convention took place in San Antonio, Texas.

On March 5, Ripken addressed attendees and answered a few pre-submitted questions, including one from West, who asked him if he ever had to play injured. Ripken answered that he did.

Later, Choptank board members Amy Brandt, Kristen Nickerson, West, and Clarice Mathies, wife of Choptank board member Craig N. Mathies Sr., were able to go backstage to meet and pose for a photo with Ripken. All four wore Orioles apparel for the photo.

“We wanted to wear jerseys to show how proud we were, being Orioles fans from Maryland, our home and his home state, where he made history,” says West.

“He was very tall in person, much bigger than I expected,” adds Brandt.

For all four homegrown Orioles fans, meeting Ripken in person was a dream come true.

“I grew up attending 20-plus Orioles games a year because my parents had season tickets,” says Nickerson. “I saw him play his rookie year at Memorial Stadium and throughout his career.”

“He was very down to earth,” adds Clarice Mathies. “For a superstar, it is nice to see he is also a people person.”

“Getting to go backstage to meet him was super exciting,” concludes West. “That opportunity was unbelievable. Thank you to NRECA for allowing us this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”