A crowd of 48,013 fans slowly filed into Camden Yards on September 20, 1998 for the final home game of the Baltimore Orioles’ season, a matchup against their AL East rivals, the New York Yankees. Arriving just on time for first pitch were Dick Walker and his daughter, Jessica.
Walker is a lifelong baseball fan and Yankees fan, but on that night he and Jessica found themselves witnessing baseball history: the end of Cal Ripken Jr’s 2,632 consecutive games played streak.
“We looked around thinking, ‘This is weird.’” Walker said. “Every member of the Yankees got up out of the dugout and stood in a line in front of the dugout. Then, I looked at third base and saw Ripken wasn’t there and said, ‘Holy crap, Ripken isn’t playing.’”
That game took place nearly nine months before the first game in Bethesda Big Train history, something that would take on great meaning for Walker.
He discovered the organization through its two co-founders, Bruce Adams and John Ourisman. The two are alumni of Landon School in Bethesda, where Walker taught for more than four decades. Ourisman helped renew Walker’s love of baseball, as the two helped to coach Landon’s middle school baseball team.
“I’ve known Dick for over 40 years,” Ourisman said. “We’ve had a great many adventures together and an integral part of our relationship has been that shared love of baseball.”
Along the way, Walker started taking his kids to Big Train games, frequenting Povich Field in the summer.
“I really came to know Big Train more through John,” Walker said. “John is one of my best friends. When he got involved with Bruce, he told me about it, and I said ‘Well, I’d like to help out!’”
Walker retired from working at Landon in 2005, the same year the Washington Nationals came to the Washington D.C. area, and his focus switched to helping nonprofit organizations’ board development, fundraising and strategy. Nearly 15 years later, he reconnected with the Big Train when Adams re-established the Bethesda Community Base Ball Club to take over Big Train’s operations.
“[Walker] was one of the first people I talked to after BCC suggested this possibility,” Adams said. “I remember meeting with him in late December and telling him what I wanted to do, and he was just fantastic. He knew all the questions to ask, all the tasks to do.”
Walker agreed to come on as a Senior Advisor for Big Train, and in his short tenure, he’s been very impressed.
“I have never seen a nonprofit board come together so quickly and so effectively as this one,” Walker said. “It’s really been an absolute pleasure to work with Bruce and the board.
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