Thursday, January 27, 2011

Orioles Hall of Fame Week- Cal Ripken Jr.

One reason that I think I have held off on profiling many of the big-name Orioles Hall of Famers is that I don't feel qualified to write about them. I can blog about the Ramon Nivars and Barry Shetrones of the Orioles past all day and feel like I've done a good job, but trying to summarize Cal Ripken Jr. and what he has meant to me and my love of baseball is a whole different monster.

I was born in 1982 and my love of baseball really started to take shape in the late '80s as I was playing tee-ball and later little league. At that time, I honestly felt like I would make it to the Major Leagues. That obviously never happened, not even close, and I had actually stopped playing by the age of 13 or so, but my love of baseball remains to this day. It's my #1 favorite sport by far; I spend a good part of every day thinking, breathing and day-dreaming about baseball. And if you asked me which one player pops into my head at any given time, it would be Cal.


Now I know that most '92 Fleer cards wouldn't be your first choice to get signed, but I love that this card has the date that the streak started and 2130 on it. Outside of any possible Orioles' World Series Championships in the coming years, I don't think anything can rival "The Streak" and 2131 in my baseball memory hierarchy. Seeing video clips of that game gets to me even to this day. The lead up to 2131 was so amazing. Could Cal stay healthy? Would it benefit the team if he took a day off now and then? How would he handle the pressure?

Well, the "Iron Man" obviously passed Lou Gehrig's record of 2130 consecutive games played and extended the record to 2632 straight games played. My dad took me to a bunch of games in the lead up to 2130 & 2131 and we watched the numbers change of the warehouse count up towards those magical numbers. He tried to find tickets to those two games but the cost was astronomical, I think in the thousands. It just wasn't gonna happen, but I appreciate that he tried so hard. Honestly, it was pretty awesome to see it on TV. I didn't know her back then, but my fiance, Kalina, was lucky enough to have some family friends that took her to 2131. She was standing in line for her "I Was There" t-shirt when Cal homered. Cool stuff, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little jealous, but I am glad that one of us got to be there for it. I was lucky enough to have been at the final game of Cal's career on October 6, 2001.

Kalina gave me this awesome card. 
It didn't scan well because it's in a screw-down case and I was too lazy to take it out for the scan.

Most of you know that Cal was the 1982 AL ROY, won the AL MVP in 1983 & '91, caught the final out in the O's '83 World Series victory, made 19 All-Star teams, won 2 Gold Gloves, 8 Silver Sluggers, was the All-Star Game MVP in 1991 & 2001, and won the '91 Home Run Derby. He has won countless other awards and honors over his illustrious career, too many to list.


Cal's #8 was retired by the O's in 2001 and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007, his first year of eligibility. Thanks for everything Cal!

I have to plug my HOF week contest. Some of you have been earning a bunch of bonus entries. I won't comment on how you can earn them, but there are some clues in previous posts.

16 comments:

Dustin said...

Awesome post. Cal is my favorite player. That record just means so much. A guy showing up to work, to a job he loved and do it so well, every day no matter what. Cal is the working man of baseball, to me. You did him great justice with your personal memories, and I too love that 1992 Fleer card.

Ryan said...

Great Post! The 1992 Fleer card is also one of my favorites. It really looks great autographed!

BA Benny said...

I too like the 92 Fleer also.

dawgbones said...

Actually, two of the cards received recently in a prize package that have found their way into a page in my PC binder were both Ripkens. A 2010 Topps Chrome Refractor and an UD Masterpieces Ripken. I just love the look of both of these cards. and the whole Gehrig streak connection is just cool!

randombaseballstuff.com said...

I agree - it is easier to write about the Ramon Nivars of the baseball world than to find something worthy of saying about the true baseball legends is another matter entirely.

I pretty much gave up on Major League Baseball after the 1994 strike & subsequent lockout. But I was watching on ESPN on Sept. 6, 1995 - that was a moment that couldn't be missed.

unclemoe said...

I've met Cal twice. Best handshake ever.

moe.

zman40 said...

That's pretty cool that Kalina got to go to the game. Does she still have the t-shirt?

I like the '92 Fleer card, but it looks like the artist painted Mark McGwire's forearms onto Cal's body.

Greg Zakwin said...

Sweet '92 Fleer, the auto looks great on it!

Matthew said...

Great post. It is tough to write about subjects that have been covered so thoroughly. When you tie it into your own experiences, the story becomes fresh again. Thanks for sharing that.

kmsals said...

We were also at the game when Cal broke the streak. It was so strange when they posted the line up and Cal's name was not on the roster. I remember that they had to delay the start of the game for a bit as Cal came out and the crowd cheered for him. I honestly think that I shed a tear or two that day. I remember where we were sitting - in the club seats over third base.
I also have great memories of Cal's last game. We were sitting in the upper deck over first base. We ran into Tom Clancy on the way out of the yard and he stopped to say hi and shake hands. SO many great memories associated with Cal, Orioles, Baseball and you!
Thanks for the memories and for many more to come!!

Ryan aka Orioles Magic said...

Thanks everyone. I'm glad that you all like the post. I've been putting this one off for awhile since I didn't know how to say what I wanted to say.

dawgbones said...

As a side note, with Ripken's love of the game, I betcha he never "worked" a day in his career!

night owl said...

A personal newspaper perspective here:

When I was first starting out producing the sports section -- laying out the page, deciding where the stories and photos go, etc., it was a difficult training period. It's not an easy thing to learn to do well.

The day I knew I "made it" in this field was the night Ripken's playing streak ended. It required a big show in the paper. I did what I thought would work and hoped it looked good in the paper the next day.

The next day, my boss, who never said anything complementary, told me I had "arrived" with that layout. I still have it.

Ryan aka Orioles Magic said...

night owl- is there any chance you could send me a picture of it? It sounds very intriguing.

Colon Cleansers said...

I honestly think that I shed a tear or two that day. I remember where we were sitting - in the club seats over third base. I also have great memories of Cal's last game.

Bo said...

Do you have any interest in a 1998 Cal Ripken Bamm-Beanos Christmas bear? There's a picture of it up on my blog.