Tuesday, October 14, 2014

#300 Cal Ripken

About the Front: This is a great shot of Cal Ripken lunging to his right to snare a ball. A similar pose was used for Cal's statue at Camden Yards, which was dedicated two years ago.

About the Back: Oh yeah, that consecutive-games thing. Thanks to the strike, Junior had to wait until September 6, 1995 to pass Lou Gehrig. He didn't take a day off until the end of the 1998 season, halting the streak at 2,632 games. I don't think anyone expected him to leave Gehrig 502 games behind.

Triple Play:

1. Let's take a deep breath and list some of Cal's accolades: 1982 AL Rookie of the Year, 1983 and 1991 AL MVP, 19-time All-Star (17-time starter), 1991 and 2001 All-Star Game MVP, two-time Gold Glover at shortstop, eight-time Silver Slugger. He was also a first-ballot Hall of Famer, garnering 98.5 percent of the vote.

2. His father, Cal Sr., was a catcher in the Baltimore farm system from 1957 through 1962. He then spent a dozen years as a minor league manager for the O's, and later coached on Earl Weaver's major league staff. He managed the Orioles after Weaver's second retirement in 1987, but was unceremoniously fired after the team lost its first six games in 1988. But the elder Ripken did have the chance to manage sons Cal and Billy in Baltimore. Billy was a second baseman who played for parts of 12 seasons, mostly with the Birds, batting .247/.294/.318 and playing sound defense. (Billy does not appear in this card set, having batted .189 in an injury-plagued 1992 season with the Orioles.)

3. Ripken heads a group that owns a few minor league baseball teams, most notably the Aberdeen IronBirds, the Orioles' New York-Penn League affiliate. The IronBirds play near Cal's childhood home, and their complex includes several little league fields that are modeled after MLB stadiums. The Cal Ripken World Series is held in Aberdeen every summer, bringing together youth teams from across the nation and the world.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Before I was even a baseball fan, I remember seeing milk commercials featuring Cal. There was one with an actor portraying a young Ripken in little league. As he comes up to bat, neighbors start warning one another to move their cars, because "that kid's up".

Bill James Said: "I know nobody asked me, but if anybody does, I am completely opposed to putting personal goals ahead of the good of the team." If James thought that the O's had a better chance of winning games with somebody other than Ripken at shortstop every day, he should have named the player. It's worth noting that Ripken moved from shortstop to third base in 1997, when the Orioles acquired Mike Bordick.

On This Date in 1993: October 14. Guy Malary, the justice minister of the Haitian transition government, is shot dead. Two security guards and a driver are also killed in the ambush.

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