Taylor native becomes good luck charm for Team Wisconsin

To say it’s been a pretty rough year for Virginia Ramsey would be an understatement.

Ramsey, who lives in Lincoln Park, had to endure the death of her daughter Jennifer, who was diagnosed with hepatitis B and died within three weeks.

That was about six months ago. Since then, Ramsey has been raising her 8-year-old grandson, Dylan.

For a change of pace, Ramsey accompanied her ex-husband (and future husband) Dave as he was assigned to umpire the Junior League regional tournament in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

While many people who accompany umpires either sit in the stands by themselves or visit with other wives and girlfriends, Ramsey sat near players who were waiting for their game to start or other spectators.

And she got to talking about Jennifer, who had lived in Lansing for the past two years when she came down with hepatitis.

Ramsey discovered that the players, coaches and parents from the team from Glendale, Wisconsin, were good listeners and very consoling. In turn, Ramsey became a fan for the Wisconsin state champions and openly rooted for them.

“I kind of adopted those boys,” said Ramsey, a Taylor native who also lived in Allen Park.

In the semifinal game, Glendale faced North Canton, Ohio. Leading 3-2 heading into the top of the seventh inning, Team Wisconsin gave up four runs as the Ohio state champs took a 6-3 lead.

The score remained the same when Wisconsin had two outs in the bottom of the seventh and final inning. The next four batters in a row were one pitch away from making the third out. They all went to three balls and two strikes – and all four reached base, two on walks and two on singles.

Wisconsin rallied and won the game, 7-6.

After the game, pitcher Gino D’Amato, age 14, went to Ramsey and said, “That was for your daughter Jennifer.”

“I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I was,” Ramsey said. “I broke down. I cried a bit. This was the nicest, most precious kid I’ve ever met. This is something I’ll never forget in my life. Forever – I’ll carry it with me forever.”

Gino’s dad, Fred, called Ramsey the team’s “good luck charm.” His mom, Annette, said Gino “totally fell in love with her the moment he met her. We were so sad for her loss.”

The next day, the Glendale boys played the Michigan state champions from Midland. The Wisconsin boys told Ramsey she couldn’t cheer for here home state team and had to sit in the middle. Ramsey was behind Glendale, although she admitted “the guys from Midland were great kids, too.”

The team defeated Midland, 10-8, to win the Central region championship and qualify for the World Series in Taylor.

Gino D’Amato won the tournament’s Sportsmanship Award.

And when the team arrived in Taylor, Ramsey was there to greet them as a first-time volunteer during the World Series. She insisted on helping to distribute the team’s red World Series uniforms. They insisted she pose with them in a team photo.

D’Amato said the team appreciated Ramsey’s support.

“She said she loved our team’s great attitude,” he said. “That meant the most to us.”

He said the coaches have instilled in the players that baseball is just a game and there are more important things in life.

“The most important thing it playing your hardest and having fun,” said D’Amato, who will be a freshman at Marquette High School in Milwaukee in the fall. “What more can you do than give 110 percent?”

D’Amato said winning the Wisconsin state championship was amazing, winning the regional was a hope but not an expectation and playing in the World Series “is just awesome.”

“Since we were 7 years old, we’ve watched the Little League World Series on TV, dreaming that we would be playing in the World Series some day,” he said. “Now we are.”

Coach Cal Chapman called Ramsey “a sweetheart.”

“The first time I met her was at the ballpark,” he recalled. “She’s always been sweet enough to come over and talk to the team and offer whatever she could. I just never thought I’d see her in Taylor.”

Chapman is one of the coaches who volunteers to coach even though he doesn’t have a player on a team. He said the Glendale team is “a special group” that was lucky to have someone as thoughtful as Ramsey behind it.

“She’s been just awesome to us,” he said. “She’s so nice. She congratulated us every time. It’s been an honor to meet her. I just never thought I’d see her in Taylor.”

Ramsey said: “The feeling is mutual.”

-- Dave Gorgon

Virginia Ramsey poses with Team Wisconsin prior to the start of the Junior League World Series in Taylor.