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Author: Subject: Cal Ripken, Jr.

Peach Master





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  posted on 1/11/2007 at 03:13 PM
So I have this tendency to write, and write, and write-and I don’t really have much of an audience, so Ive decided to post here-It’s not ABB related, but that doesn’t seem to stop anyone else, so here it goes. I wrote a little retrospect on Cal Ripken Jr, my favorite athlete of all time, on the heels of his HOF induction, figured I might share and get some thoughts from others:



With Cal Ripken becoming the newest member of the National Baseball Hall Of Fame, it’s the final stop on his blue collar career. It’s the final chapter for a player that was like no one before him, and as the “steroid era” continues, certainly no one after him. He was, as the cliché goes, rock solid.

As a young boy, I was like most boys at the age of 10. I was obsessed with the idea of becoming a professional athlete-more specifically, a third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, or a pitcher, depending on what day it was and which one I was doing better in practice. And like most youngsters, there was one player I emulated in just about every facet of what I did-with every at bat, with every throwing motion, and even down to what I drank in the dugout-was an exact replica of Cal Ripken, Jr. Needless to say, it didn’t work for me, as I later realized that my baseball skills weren’t exactly “skills” as much as they were “habits.” I didn’t turn double plays like Cal, and I didn’t have a swing like Cal.

Growing up 2 hours south of Baltimore gave me the opportunity to watch Cal every night during the summer months. Those teams were often average, and usually not that good, but it made no difference. Ripken was clocking in, and playing. As I grew older and realized I’d never make it as a baseball player, I learned the emulate Ripken in other ways. Gone were the thoughts of using his batting stance-instead, I watched him lead his squad in the face of losses and being the whipping boy of the American League East. If I could do that in my respective profession, I’d be happy.

I watched as he broke the streak set by Lou Gehrig, and after recording the game, continued to watch them often in the following years-My parents wondered if it ever got old. It didn’t. I followed the life and career of Cal Ripken as closely as you could from a fan’s perspective. I remember watching him run a lap around Camden Yards after breaking Lou Gehrig’s record-worried my parents would see me getting a bit teary. He single-handedly saved baseball, which was still reeling from the strike-And he did so by signifying the polar opposite of everything the strike represented-greed, power, and selfishness.

Once I got to college, Cal’s career was winding down, and his streak had come to an end. He had suffered some injury problems-we gasped at the thought just 3 years earlier-and it was clear his effect on the Baltimore Orioles on the field wasn’t as strong as it once was. He continued to be a leader, and while he may not have been contributing as strongly on the base paths, the organization was still better off just having him at the ballpark.

When he retired, it was no surprise to anyone-he simply had enough. And for all of Cal Ripken’s accomplishments as a baseball player, perhaps it is his post-playing career that will define him. Through the children’s books he has written with his brother Billy, the establishment of Ripken Baseball as the leader in youth baseball development, it’s probably not too far fetched to say he has done more for American youth sports than any athlete before him.

I got the opportunity to finally meet Cal Ripken in 2003, through my job-it meant I had to stay three extra hours after my shift, but I surmised that waiting that long was a perfect example of what I had learned from Cal Ripken. Put in a little extra time, a little extra work, and it will pay off. He walked into my workplace, and I reached out a hand. I wasn’t sure how to tell him what he meant to me as a kid, but whatever it was, it wouldn’t do it justice. “Cal, I’ve watched you since I was a kid,” I said. “I just wanted to say thanks for doing what you did.” He smiled and replied simply, “Thanks man, I appreciate that, that’s means a lot." Thank you indeed.

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 1/11/2007 at 03:39 PM
Good piece.

And, here's another testament to his legacy: I don't know squat about baseball. Don't watch it, maybe go to one game every other year to make my wife happy (she's a big Cubs fan), and probably couldn't name more than one or two players on either Chicago team. But still, I know who Cal Ripken Jr. is, as well as some of the historical material you refer to in your piece.

Seems like it's getting harder and harder to find heroes and role models in professional sports. Good thing we can still hold onto a few.

I assume you frequent, or at least visit the "baseball" thread in the Whipping Post. I don't, personally, but the guys over there would probably appreciate this.

Peace.

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 1/11/2007 at 03:54 PM
Cal's career stats:

.276 BA
.447 Slugging
3,184 hits (14th all time)
1,695 RBI (20th all time)
431 HR (37th all time)
1,078 Extra Base Hits (17th all time)
5,168 Total Bases (13th all time)
.977 Fielding Percentage
Rookie of the Year ('82)
8 Silver Slugger awards
2 AL MVP awards ('83 & '91)
2 Gold Glove Awards ('91 & '92)
MLB Player of the Year ('91)
19-time All Star (MVP in 2001)

And, of course, the big one:
2,632 CONSECUTIVE GAMES PLAYED


Post Season
He led the Orioles to a World Series Championship in 1983, the same year he won his first MVP (Orioles beat the Phillies 4 games to 1). In 6 post season series his Orioles teams won 4 of them (including that '83 WS) and he had a nice .336 BA.

[Edited on 1/11/2007 by gondicar]

 

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Universal Peach



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  posted on 1/11/2007 at 04:18 PM
Great Player with great integrity. Congrats to him.
spdb

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 1/11/2007 at 04:31 PM
Was pleased to see Cal get the Hall of Fame nod - imo this is a man who always conducts himself with grace and class. With so many of our sports players being looked at as heroes by our youth, here is a man who is actually setting a good example. You go Cal!

 

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  posted on 1/11/2007 at 06:04 PM
Cal Ripken, Jr. owns the Augusta Greenjackets farm team.

 

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