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Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Md., was packed Saturday afternoon, but it wasn’t for baseball.
Ravens safety Haruki Nakamura’s autograph signing to benefit tsunami and earthquake relief in Japan was center stage as over 3,000 fans came out to meet their football heroes.
In addition to Nakamura, safety Ed Reed, cornerback Chris Carr, quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Ray Rice, defensive tackle Brandon McKinney and Ravens alumni Qadry Ismail were in attendance.
Ray Rice and Joe Flacco signing for fans
Not too shabby when organizing an event in under a week.
“We had no idea what this was turning into,” Nakamura told reporters. “A 15-minute conversation turned in to what we have here now.
“It means a lot. These guys are trying to make this event very big and build the support as much as possible.”
At the end of the day, Nakamura’s event raised over $60,000 for the Red Cross, the leading relief provider for the Japan disaster.
And judging by the smiles on the faces of Nakamura’s teammates, it was a success.
“It’s always great to come out to things like this, but when you see something on the news and you’ve got a guy on the team who’s family is out there, we realize that it’s not just our family. He’s one of the guys that I came in with in my draft class,” said Rice.
Said Carr: “Just being here with all the guys, it’s great to see. The fans are here for us, just it’s really for the Red Cross and for Japan. If it wasn’t for that, I’m not so sure this many people would be here. That’s the American spirit. People want to help out those who are less fortunate, and that’s why we’re here.”