Ripken Streak: 2,632. CU's Streak Of Fortunate Coincidences: One

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Midwest Financial Credit Union called it a stroke of luck that baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. helped launch its new business services program.

The former Baltimore Oriole, who in 1995 broke Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 consecutive games played and who holds the record for career home runs by a shortstop, had already been invited by the Washtenaw Economic Club to attend a monthly luncheon of its members.

"Because we have been with the Economic Club for a long time and have a choice as to which date we would like to sponsor, so we chose the date that Cal Ripken was coming,'' said Lora Bingham, director of marketing and communications at the $196-million MFCU.

She said past speakers have included Jane Bryant Quinn, Barbara Bush, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Frank Abagnale, Dave Barry, Jeff Daniels, Carl Levin, Mary Lou Retton, Al Roker, George R. Stephanopoulos, Bob Woodward and David E. Davis.

"The mission of the Economic Club is to provide speakers of national and international prominence for the cultural, academic and social enlightenment of the community,'' she said.

Because the luncheon coincided with the launch of its new business services program that includes a new line of interest-paying checking products, the marketing team built a campaign that tied the two together, she said.

"We worked really hard to create a ballgame atmosphere in a ballroom in a hotel,'' she said. "We had an actual baseball with our logo on it at every setting and provided Cracker Jack at every table.''

Ripken tossed five baseball-shaped stress balls into the audience of more than 520 people. Recipients of those balls were treated to a Detroit Tigers game, compliments of the credit union.

Bingham said background audio provided snippets of baseball games being called and verses of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame.''

The CU also invited members of Henry Ford Museum's Greenfield Village La-De-Dahs baseball team-in uniforms reminiscent of the late 1800s (neckties required)-to serve as ushers.

"This was a great opportunity for us,'' said Eric Pless, SVP of Business Development at MFCU. "What a great platform to launch our new business services.''

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