The name “Ripkin” is synonymous with homegrown talent in Baltimore, Maryland. Cal Ripken, Sr. worked his way through Baltimore Minor Leagues to play for the Orioles.
He taught his two sons, Bill and Cal, Jr. to play great baseball too. Soon both of them had risen through the ranks of the minor leagues to play baseball along side each other. It was baseball first.. Three members of the same family working for the same team (Ripken Sr. was a team manager). Eventually, Ripken Sr. would become to old for the game. Not long after, Billy retired too. But Cal Ripken, Jr. hung in there and not only played into his 40’s, but played pretty darn good.
Cal Jr.’s ability to stick to it paid of in many ways. By the end of his baseball career, Ripken had played over 2,600 games of baseball consecutively. Remarkably, he played them at the shortstop position, which after pitcher and arguably first baseman, is the most physically demanding position to play. Only a 10 minute walk from Babe Ruth’s childhood home, Cal Ripken Jr. became baseball’s “Ironman” for his seemingly super-human marathon abilities. He has over 2,600 games and over 3,000 hits, and he didn’t need steroids to do that, just a strong will and an iron determination.He’s a true sports hero anyone could look up to.
No, he never had a 70 homerun season. Yet there must have been a some reason he was invited to the All-star games 19 times. It was his consistency. He wasn’t the guy who always hit the grand-slams (though he did have a few of his own), he was the guy who was always on base making a grand-slam out of an ordinary home run. By no means was he a poor batter, though. He averaged .276 and had over 3,000 career hits and over 450 homeruns.
Where he really shined, however was on the field. As a shortstop, Cal would regularly leave the ground to stop a line drive from slicing into center-left field. His dedication to the sport showed in the way he played with precision. By the end of almost every year, Cal had the lowest number of errors for the season.
His leadership is sure to be missed around the clubhouse. Now the big bat in the dug-out is Sammy Sosa’s. But not long after the team owner brought him into Baltimore, Sosa was making the 1hour trip into D.C. to testify about steroid use to the Senate. Whether he did or did not use steroids isn’t the point. It’s just certainly a lot harder to call yourself an O’s fan these days. Hopefully, Cal will follow the footsteps of fellow Oriole and Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, and come back as a coach, manager, owner. They’ll give him whatever position he wants because they know like everyone else does, that the Ironman’s leadership is sorely missed.