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Cheryl Doyle was driving down the road a few Saturdays ago when she had an epiphany. She was getting her first tattoo! She was a 59-year-old retired grandmother of eight who yelled at her kids when they got tattoos but somehow, in that moment, everything changed.
She was — without a doubt — not the kind of person who gets tattoos. But she was getting a tattoo!
This wasn’t just any tattoo. It wasn’t a flower or an animal or anything else out of the My-First-Tattoo starter kit. It was a tribute to the now-infamous Major League Baseball player who recently set a record for the most consecutive at-bats without getting a hit.
She walked into Black Anchor Tattoo in Denton, Md., and said she wanted a Baltimore Orioles tattoo with Chris Davis’ number. The tattoo artist, a guy named Patrick James, didn’t know the current notoriety surrounding Davis’ name — that he was mired in a hitless streak that dated back to the previous September, and that a few days later he would eclipse the previous MLB record. Davis’ hitless streak would ultimately last 54 at-bats.
He was, for a time, the biggest punchline in baseball. But for Doyle, he’s now a timeless part of her body.
“People have short memories,” she told Yahoo Sports two weeks later, now that a picture of her tattoo was gaining steam around the internet and had apparently earned the thumbs up from Davis himself. “They don’t remember how good he once was. How dare they boo him.
“I just love Chris Davis, always have, and don’t like the way they’ve been treating him.”
She picked up her phone at one point in the tattoo process and texted her son Harrison. It read, “You have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into. Tell no one.”
Two messages later, this picture appeared on his phone:
— Harrison Doyle (@_HarrisonDoyle_) April 24, 2019
‘I’m just somebody’s grandmother’
When Cheryl Doyle says she’s not the kind of person who gets tattoos, she means it. She goes to church every Sunday night. She retired after more than 20 years working as a correctional administrator. Her family used to joke she was doing 20 years in prison but never committed a crime. She likes to hang out with her grandkids, her dogs, her husband and go to the beach. She loves flamingos.
“I’m just somebody’s grandmother, that’s what I am,” she said. “There’s nothing interesting or exciting about my life.
On Tuesday, when Harrison posted the picture of his mom’s tattoo, he was hoping to contribute to the community of Orioles fans on Twitter. Heck, maybe — just maybe — Davis would see it and they’d get to meet him or something.
“Maybe it’s because I got the tattoo,” Doyle said about Davis’ breaking out of his hitless streak recently. “I think I’m the reason he’s out of his slump.
“He should thank me,” she said, clearly joking.
But about that: Within an hour of the picture going up on Twitter, the Orioles saw it and tweeted back at Harrison saying they want to send her something. The Orioles told Yahoo Sports on Thursday that Davis appreciated the tattoo and they’d be sending Cheryl Doyle a signed picture and ball.
“I’m having so much fun with this,” she said.
When Yahoo Sports asked Harrison Doyle why he wanted to share the picture of his mom’s tattoo now, he responded with a bit of truth — about Davis, but also about all of us — that’s worth sharing.
“It's for the message,” he said. “Times can be tough. People can go through hard times. But instead of giving up and complaining, let's lift each other up and enjoy the ride, win or lose.”
The baseball roots run deep
For every little bit of Cheryl Doyle that was not a tattoo person, there’s an equal amount of Cheryl Doyle who is a baseball person. She went to her first Orioles game at Memorial Stadium with her dad back when she was 5 or 6 years old.
She has a granddaughter named Camden (you can figure that one out) and a grandson named Calvin (that one too).
“I took my son out of school when he was 9 or 10 to go an Orioles playoff game, back when the Orioles played in playoff games,” she said. “I had to write an excuse letter for school, so I wrote the note saying he had to attend an anti-acidic spherical parental bonding experience.”
OK, that one might need to be spelled out. The opposite of an acid is a base, and a ball is a sphere — so a baseball parental bonding experience. She said she never heard a word back from the school.
“The roots run very deep in baseball in this family,” she said proudly.
So while it’s a surprise Doyle got a tattoo, a *baseball* tattoo seems like the logical choice.
“My kids could not believe it,” she said. “Mom would never get a tattoo.”
It was quite a surprise to her husband Mark too. She managed to keep it a secret from him for an entire 24 hours, until the following night, when she showed her entire church. She’d been asked to speak at church that night and a did big reveal right there in front of everyone. “The whole church screamed and went nuts,” Doyle said. “Who does that? The whole thing has just been crazy. My poor husband. He doesn’t have tattoos either.”
She might have been content with her Chris Davis tattoo, but as people will tell you, tattoos can lead to more tattoos. So when Harrison came home to visit from Nashville recently, he proposed that he and Mom get matching tattoos.
“Now I have two tattoos,” she said.
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