Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Calvin Edwin Ripken, Jr. (born August 24, 1960 in Havre de Grace, Maryland), commonly known as Cal or Cal Jr., is a Hall of Fame shortstop and third baseman in Major League Baseball who played his entire career for the Baltimore Orioles from 1981 to 2001. A 19-time MLB All-Star, Ripken is considered one of the best shortstops to ever play the game. At 6' 4" (1.93 m), he pioneered the way for the taller and larger shortstops.

Baltimore Orioles (1981-2001)
MLB All-Star (19) 1983-2001 (DNP 2000)
MLB All-Star Game MVP (2) 1991, 2001
American League Rookie of the Year 1982
American League MVP (2) 1983, 1991
American League Gold Glove Award (2) 1991, 1992
American League Silver Slugger Award (8) 1983-86, 1989, 1991, 1993-94
Most Consecutive Games Played: 2,632
MLB All-Century Team Career highlights
Ripken, as a member of the Rochester Red Wings (the Orioles Triple-A farm club), played in the longest professional baseball game. Ripken started at third base and played all 33 innings against the Pawtucket Red Sox in a game that took three days to complete. He made his big-league debut in a strike year (ironic because the consecutive game record he earned in 1995 helped the league recover from the 1994 strike) and ultimately wrested the shortstop job from Mark Belanger, an eight-time Gold Glover.

Ripken split time between short and third base in '81 and '82, but he started to achieve prominence right away. His streak started in May of '82, and he hit 28 home runs that year en route to the American League's Rookie of the Year Award.

Ripken took an even bigger step forward in 1983, when he earned the first of his 19 All-Star berths and was named the American League MVP in 1983, hitting .318 batting average with 27 home runs and 102 RBI. His fielding percentage that year was .970. He would go on to hit at least 20 home runs for an additional eight straight seasons, which was unheard of at the time for a shortstop. Although an offensive non-factor, he let his glove do the talking with his usual clutch play at shortstop, and made the final out of the series on a Garry Maddox lineout in Game 5.

Cal Ripken, Jr 1983
1987 was a family affair year for Ripken as his dad, Cal Ripken, Sr., who was a former player, coach, and scout for the Orioles became manager of the club. That year, he became the first manager to write two of his sons into the lineup card when both Ripken Jr and his brother and fellow Oriole Billy Ripken played in the same game. However, after going 67-95 in 1987 and 0-6 in 1988, Ripken Sr was fired.

While he narrowly missed out on a Gold Glove in 1990 -- when he made just three errors in 162 games, he used a more crouched stance during the 1991 season and had a career year. Ripken led the American League with 111 hits and a .348 batting average at the All-Star Break. He finished the season by hitting .323/.374/.566 over 717 plate appearances, with 34 HR and 114 RBI. In addition to that, Ripken hit 46 doubles, stole a career-high 6 bases and was caught once, and also hit 5 triples, while posting his career lowest strikeout rate and lowest number of strikeouts in a season with 600 or more plate appearances. His 1991 season is the fourth-greatest in baseball history (second among non-pitchers) as measured by WARP3 at 17.0 wins, bested only by Walter Johnson's 1913(18.1 wins), Babe Ruth's 1923(18 wins), and Amos Rusie's 1894 season(17.6 wins).
Ripken won his second AL MVP award, the Gold Glove Award, 1991 All Star game MVP award (going 2 for 3 including a 3-run home run off Dennis Martínez), the Gatorade Home Run Derby contest (hitting a then record 12 home runs in 22 swings, including 7 consecutive homers to start the contest), Louisville Slugger "Silver Slugger Award", AP Player of the Year Award, and The Sporting News Player of the Year Award. The only other player in MLB history to win all those awards in the same season, excluding the Home Run Derby, was Maury Wills in 1962.
Ripken also became the first player ever to win the Home Run Derby and be named All Star Game MVP in the same year. The only other player that has accomplished this feat is Garret Anderson of the Anaheim Angels in 2003. He was the first AL MVP in MLB history to win the award while playing with a sub .500 club. The Orioles finished in 6th place that year with a 67-95 record.
At the end of the 1991 season, Memorial Stadium, the Oriole's home since 1954, saw its last MLB game against the Detroit Tigers. Ripken was the last Oriole to bat at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, hitting into a double play against Detroit's Frank Tanana on Oct. 6, 1991.

On September 20, before the final home game of the season against the New York Yankees, Ripken decided to end his streak at 2,632 games. Rookie third baseman Ryan Minor started in his place. Realizing that the streak was coming to an end, the fans, his teammates, and the visiting Yankees gave Ripken an ovation after the game's first out was recorded. Ripken later stated that he decided to end the streak at the end of the season, to avoid an off-season controversy about his playing status.

In 1999, Cal had his statistically best season since 1991. Although he was injured at the beginning and the end of the 1999 season, he managed to hit 18 homers in only 332 at-bats (one HR every 18.4 AB's) while hitting a career high .340. He also had the best individual game of his career, going 6 for 6 with 2 homers off of John Smoltz and tying a club record with 13 total bases against the Atlanta Braves on June 13, 1999.

Ripken's 1999 season ended early due to injury when he was only 9 hits away from joining the 3000 hit club. He finally achieved the milestone early in the 2000 season when he singled off of reliever Héctor Carrasco in a game against the Minnesota Twins on April 15, 2000.

In June 2001, Ripken announced his retirement. He was voted the starting third baseman in the All-Star game at Safeco Field on July 10, 2001 in Seattle. In a tribute to Cal's achievements and stature in the game, shortstop Alex Rodriguez insisted on exchanging positions with third baseman Ripken for the first inning, so that Ripken could play shortstop as he had for most of his career. In the third inning, Ripken made his first plate appearance and was greeted with a standing ovation. Ripken then homered off the first pitch from Chan Ho Park. Ripken ended up with All Star MVP honors. He is the only AL player in MLB history with multiple All Star Game MVP Awards (1991 and 2001). Ripken's #8 was retired by the Baltimore Orioles in a ceremony before the final home game of the 2001 season. Ripken's final game was originally set to be played at Yankee Stadium; however, all Major League Baseball games from September 11th to September 17th were postponed due to the terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon. The Orioles were at home during the attacks, so the games missed were added on to the end of the season's schedule, which changed the location of Ripken's final game to Oriole Park, much to the delight of Orioles fans. Cal Ripken ended his career in the on deck circle in the bottom of the ninth inning. Brady Anderson, also playing in his last game for the Orioles, swung and missed a fastball high and tight on a 3-2 count to end the game.

Cal Ripken retired on October 6, 2001. He is a part owner of the New York-Penn League's Aberdeen IronBirds, the Short-season Class A affiliate Minor League Baseball team within the Orioles' system. The team plays at Ripken Stadium in Cal's hometown of Aberdeen, Maryland.
On June 28, 2005, he announced that he was also purchasing the Augusta GreenJackets of the South Atlantic League, a Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.
Ripken has also made donations to charity causes, including many donations supporting research on Lou Gehrig's disease. He and his brother Billy also formed the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to give underprivileged children the opportunity to attend baseball camps around the country and learn the game. The Foundation is a branch of Ripken Baseball. In addition to controlling these camps and Ripken's minor league teams, Ripken Baseball operates for-profit camps and designs ballfields for youth, college, and professional teams. He also gives speeches about his time in baseball and some of the lessons he has learned. Between 2001 and 2004, inclusive, Ripken served as commissioner of the White House Tee Ball Initiative of President George W. Bush, in which capacity he worked to promote the value of teamwork amongst players and volunteership amongst the public and helped to teach tee ball fundamentals to teams of children at the White House
Ripken is still a popular figure in Baltimore and Washington, DC area advertising, and frequently appears in regional commercials for Comcast cable and internet service. His appearance at a Washington Capitals game on February 10, 2007, prompted a standing ovation from the crowd [1].
In 2005, the Orioles honored Ripken on the 10th anniversary of his 2,131st consecutive game. After the top of the 5th inning, the numbers 2130 on the warehouse behind the stadium changed to 2131, just as they did on September 6, 1995.
In April 2007, he released two books, Get in the Game, described as a motivational guide to success, and The Longest Season, a children's book about the Orioles' 1988 season. He also publishes a weekly advice column in the Baltimore Sun and has produced a line of baseball training videos.
On April 9, 2007, Ripken announced a partnership with the recently-formed "Reviving Baseball in the Inner City" program, with the donation of US$1 million in cash and equipment from the Cal Ripken Sr Foundation. The induction ceremony was attended by a record 75,000 people.
In August 2007, Secreatry of State Condoleeza Rice annouced Ripken has become the second American public diplomacy envoy, the first envoy being figure skater Michelle Kwan.

Post-playing life
At 6 ft 4 in, 225 lb (1.93 m, 102 kg), Ripken was a departure from the prototypical shortstop of the time — small, fleet-of-foot players who played a defensively difficult position but often did not post the home run and batting average totals that an outfielder might. Power hitting shortstops such as Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada are often seen to be part of Ripken's legacy.
Nonetheless, Ripken demonstrated the ability to play excellent defense at shortstop, and as a result remained a fixture there for well over a decade, leading the league in assists several times, winning the Gold Glove twice, and, in 1990, setting the MLB record for best fielding percentage in a season at his position. Though not a flashy fielder, Ripken displayed excellent fundamentals, and studied batters and even his own pitching staff so he could position himself to compensate for his lack of physical speed, even calling pitches at times. Ripken's legacy as a fielder is reflected by his place near the top of almost every defensive statistical category — he holds at least one all-time record (for either season, career, or most seasons leading the league) in assists, putouts, fielding percentage, double plays, and fewest errors.
Ripken's power, which led to records like the most home runs by shortstop and 13th for career doubles, also had some consequences. His propensity to drive the ball often led to his grounders getting to fielders quickly for tailor-made double-play balls. In 1999, Ripken passed Hank Aaron as the player who had grounded into the most double plays in his career — interestingly enough, he is also second on the fielding side for double plays by a shortstop.
Billy and Cal Ripken are one of only four two-brother combinations in major league history to play second base/shortstop on the same club, Baltimore Orioles, during the 1980s. The others are Garvin and Granny Hamner, for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1945; the twins Eddie and Johnny O'Brien, with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the mid-1950s, and Frank and Milt Bolling, for the Detroit Tigers in 1958.[2]
Finally, Ripken was known for being one of the most willing autograph signers in baseball (and is known for always asking where to sign the item) and a goodwill ambassador to the game in general (September 1995 Beckett Baseball Card Monthly)
On September 23, 2001 the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series and MBNA re-named the fall race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, DE naming the race the MBNA Cal Ripken Jr. 400. The race paid tribute to Ripken's legacy and he was also in attendance greeting the competing drivers as they crossed the stage during driver introductions. The race also paid tribute to the men and women who died during the September 11th Terrorist Attacks which took place a mere week before. Driver Bobby Labonte had a special paint scheme on his #18 Interstate Batteries car featuring Baltimore Orioles colors along with Ripken's retirement seal. Dale Earnhardt, Jr won the race carrying the American flag with him on his victory lap. Labonte meanwhile finished 36th.


Awards and records

1982: American League Rookie of the Year
1983: American League Most Valuable Player
1983: American League Silver Slugger Award (SS)
1984: American League Silver Slugger Award (SS)
1985: American League Silver Slugger Award (SS)
1986: American League Silver Slugger Award (SS)
1989: American League Silver Slugger Award (SS)
1991: American League Most Valuable Player
1991: MLB All-Star Game Most Valuable Player
1991: American League Gold Glove Award (SS)
1991: American League Silver Slugger Award (SS)
1992: Roberto Clemente Award
1992: Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
1992: American League Gold Glove Award (SS)
1993: American League Silver Slugger Award (SS)
1994: American League Silver Slugger Award (SS)
1995: Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year"
1999: Ranked Number 78 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players
1999: Elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
2001: MLB All-Star Game Most Valuable Player
2001: Ranked third greatest shortstop all-time in the The New Bill James Historical Abstract.
2001: Uniform number (8) retired by the Baltimore Orioles
2007: Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by 98.53 percent of voters. The highest percentage of votes ever for a position player.
2007: Inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 29th with the San Diego Padres' great Tony Gwynn in front of a record crowd of 75,000 people
Most consecutive games played at 2,632
Most grounded into double plays at 350
Most double plays by a shortstop, American League, at 1,682
All-time leader in MLB All-Star fan balloting (36,123,483) Baltimore Orioles

MLB consecutive games played streaks
DHL Hometown Heroes
List of MLB individual streaks
Top 500 home run hitters of all time
List of major league players with 2,000 hits
List of Major League Baseball players with 400 doubles
List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs
List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
3000 hit club
3000-300 club
Hitting for the cycle
List of Major League Baseball runs scored champions
MLB consecutive games played streaks
Major League Baseball hitters with three home runs in one game
List of second generation MLB players

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