SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles will play their first exhibition game today with heavy hearts, the loss of a beloved member of the organization bringing great pain to all of us.
Monica Pence Barlow, the club's director of public relations, passed away early this morning after a long and courageous battle with cancer. She was 36.
monicaSU2C.jpgShe also was a fighter - tougher than anyone I've known. Diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in September 2009, she leaned heavily on her faith while enduring rounds of chemotherapy, experimental procedures and the invasion of privacy that comes with being a public figure.
In 2008 my son's birthday was around the time that the Orioles played at Wrigley Field for the first time. A friend of Ms. Pence put me in contact with her so I could ask that one of the Orioles' players would come to the railing behind the Orioles' dugout where we had seats and sign a baseball for my son. The next thing I knew Ms. Pence had us ON THE FIELD behind the batting cage while the Orioles were taking batting practice. We were given baseballs which Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis signed for us and then we spoke with Dave Trembley and Jim Palmer. After he was finished with BP Nick Markakis gave my son his batting gloves with his number on them. We then spent the next 45 minutes in the Orioles' dugout getting a chance to meet most of the players.
Let's say that my son was more than shocked as to what his birthday present turned out to be. To top it off we went up 11 - 0 and won the game 11- 5.
I will never forget Monica's kindness and I intend to make a donation to the LUNGevity Foundation (www.lungevity.org) in her memory.
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