Calvin Edwin Ripken, Jr. (born August 24, 1960 in Havre de Grace, Maryland), commonly known as Cal or Cal Jr., less frequently Junior or Rip, is a former Major League Baseball player. Cal played his entire career for the Baltimore Orioles from 1981 to 2001 at shortstop and third base. A 19-time MLB All-Star, Cal is considered one of the best shortstops to ever play the game. At 6' 4"/1.93 m, Cal pioneered the way for taller and larger shortstops.
Cal was raised in Aberdeen, Maryland, a town near Havre de Grace, by a baseball family. His father, Cal Sr., was a long-time coach in baseball who managed the Orioles in the late 1980s. Cal attended Aberdeen High School as did his brother Billy Ripken, who later played second base for various teams, including the Orioles. He has two other siblings, Elly and Fred. He is married to the former Kelly Geer and has a daughter, Rachel, born in 1989 and a son, Ryan, born in 1993.
Ripken is best known as baseball's "Iron Man", playing in a record 2,632 straight games, spanning sixteen seasons, from (May 30, 1982 - September 20, 1998). He played his 2131st consecutive game on September 6, 1995, against the California Angels, breaking the 56-year-old record set by the "Iron Horse" Lou Gehrig, the legendary New York Yankee first baseman who ended his playing streak after contracting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
His consecutive games played record, which took 16 years to establish, made him a popular player with the American League fans, who voted him into the AL All-Star team 18 out of 19 times.
Despite having statistics that put him among the best in the American League, Ripken played for an average team. The Baltimore Orioles only made the playoffs three times in his 20-year career.
During "The Streak", Cal played nearly the entire game each game, averaging 99.8% of time on the field. Ripken refused to make token appearances in games to keep the streak alive. However, Ripken had several close calls that almost ended the streak, and in fact, he started in every game of his streak. In a 1985 game (#444 of the Streak), Ripken sprained his ankle while running out a double. The next day, Ripken's ankle swelled so badly that he couldn't play. However, that day was an exhibition game for the Orioles and Ripken sat out.
In a game against the Seattle Mariners in June 1993, there was a brawl on the mound at Camden Yards. Ripken twisted his right knee while trying to break up the brawl and protect then-Orioles ace Mike Mussina. The Orioles had a game that night, so Ripken's wife suggested that he play only one inning to record an appearance, a tactic that had been employed on occasion in establishing Lou Gehrig's streak. Instead, Ripken played the entire game. He taped up his knee and took infield practice before the game, and then played every inning for the next two weeks. This was the last serious threat to Ripken's streak. On July 9, 1996, Ripken had his nose broken by Roberto Hernandez. As he and Ripken were leaving the field after the All-Star team photo shoot, Hernandez slipped on the tarp and inadvertently broke Cal's nose. Ripken continued his streak and started the All-Star Game that night as well. This was well after he broke Gehrig's record.
During that same year, Ripken's second child was about to be born during the baseball season. The media asked if Ripken would sit out if his child would be born on a game day and he said he would. However, Ripken's son, Ryan, was born on an Orioles off day.
Although Major League Baseball does not keep official records of consecutive innings played, another unofficial record is the 8,243 straight innings he played from June 5, 1982, to September 14, 1987. The consecutive inning streak, which spanned 904 consecutive games, ended in the 8th inning of an 18-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. The decision to rest Cal Ripken was made jointly by Cal Jr. and his father, then-manager Cal Sr. because Cal Sr. believed it was too big a distraction to the team. Cal Ripken sat on the bench for the remaining 20 minutes of the game.
Cal Ripken also played third base for the Rochester Red Wings in the longest game in professional baseball history: a 33 inning, 8 hour, 25 minute, 3-2 loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox that began on April 18, 1981, and didn't end until June 23 when play resumed. Contemporary Wade Boggs also played in this game, for the Red Sox.
Cal Ripken Jr. was called up to the major leagues as a third baseman. As the coach's son, he faced extra pressure to prove he had been chosen on merit. He homered in his first at-bat on Opening Day and then fell into a deep slump going 4 for 55. Apparently worried that he may be sent down to the minor leagues, a May 1 talk with Reggie Jackson at third base during a game seemed to help Ripken improve for the rest of the season. After the talk, Cal raised his average from .141 to as high as .284 before ending with a .264 average. Cal led all AL rookies in every offensive category including home runs (23) and RBI's (93). Ripken edged out Wade Boggs of the Boston Red Sox and Kent Hrbek of the Minnesota Twins for the American League Rookie of the Year.
Ripken hit .318 and led the AL with 211 hits, 47 doubles, 76 extra-base hits, 121 runs, 162 games played and 663 at bats. He helped lead the Baltimore Orioles to a 98-64 record and a World Series title. At the end of the season, Cal beat out teammate Eddie Murray in the AL MVP voting, the final tally being 322-290.
Cal became the first player in MLB history to win Rookie of the Year honors and be named the MVP the following year. (Fred Lynn had previously won both honors in 1975, as would Ichiro Suzuki in 2001; Ryan Howard matched Ripken's feat in 2005 and 2006.)
In 1990, Ripken had his worst season of his career up to that point. He was often booed loudly at home and his power numbers and batting average were down. He was hitting .209 in June. He often took extra batting practice before the game to get out of his slump, but Frank Robinson suggested he adjust his stance by widening and bending a little at the knees. The result was Ripken hitting .278 the rest of the 1990 season to raise his final season average to .250.
While his hitting suffered, Ripken was still a good defender, compiling a then-record 95 straight games without an error. He committed just 3 errors all season, finishing with a MLB record .996 fielding percentage. However, he did not win the Gold Glove. The Gold Glove that season went to rival Ozzie Guillén who had committed 17 errors.
Ripken had been seen to use a more crouched stance during the season and the results were much better than previous years. 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 with 34 HR's and 114 RBI's. He also led the league with 85 extra-base hits and 368 total bases.
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 of 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 honors the same year. The only other player that has accomplished this feat is Garret Anderson of the Anaheim Angels in 2003.
Ripken 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.
On September 6, 1995, many fans nationwide tuned in to ESPN to watch Ripken surpass Lou Gehrig's 56-year-old record for consecutive games played. It still ranks as one of the network's most watched baseball games ever. Cal's children, Rachel and Ryan, threw out the ceremonial first balls. When the game became official in the bottom of the fifth inning, the numerical banners that displayed Ripken's streak on the wall of the B&O Warehouse outside the stadium's right field wall changed from 2130 to 2131. Ripken hit a home run to a seat (now marked in the stadium) in his 2130th consecutive game. He had previously hit a home-run in 1993 to exactly the same seat to break Ernie Banks' record for most home-runs by a shortstop. The crowd (including the opposing Angels and all four umpires) erupted with a standing ovation lasting 22 minutes and 16 seconds, the longest standing ovation for a Baltimore Oriole and perhaps for any athlete. During the ovation, Cal also did a lap around the entire Camden Yards warning track to shake hands and give high-fives to the fans. ESPN never went to a commercial break during the entire ovation. In the game, Ripken went 2 for 4, hitting a home run and a double in the game. Mike Mussina recorded the win.
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 and tying a club record with 13 total bases against the Atlanta Braves on 6/13/1999.
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.
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. His success is reflected in his career range factor per game of 4.62 — one of the highest ever among shortstops, even above quicker 10-time Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel. Ripken's legacy as a fielder is reflected by his place near the top of almost every defensive statstical 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 such distinctions as the most home runs by shortstop, and 13th for career doubles, also had some unfortunate 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.
Cal Ripken retired on October 6, 2001 and paid for a new stadium in Aberdeen, MD. He is a part owner of the Aberdeen IronBirds, the Single-A Rookie affiliate minor league baseball team associated with the Orioles. On June 28, 2005, he announced that he was also purchasing the Augusta GreenJackets of the South Atlantic League, an A-level 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 controls 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. Ripken publishes a weekly advice column in the Baltimore Sun.
Ripken unexpectedly made news in November 2003 when he reported a naked man at his door. The visitor was a bleeding kidnapped victim dropped off near his home.
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.
Currently, Ripken is promoting his own line of baseball training videos. In the TV commercial, Ripken can be heard shouting "OH that is NIIIICE!" after a seemingly routine groundball is fielded and thrown to first.
Awards and recordsEdit
- 1982: American League Rookie of the Year
- 1983: American League MVP
- 1991: American League MVP
- 1991: All-Star Game MVP
- 1991: Gold Glove Award for shortstop
- 1992: Gold Glove award for shortstop
- 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: All-Star Game MVP
- 2001: Ranked third greatest shortstop all-time in the The New Bill James Historical Abstract.
- 2001: Uniform number (8) retired by the Baltimore Orioles
- 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)
- Most MLB All-Star Game appearances at shortstop (15) - 1983-1996, 2001
- Most consecutive MLB All-Star Game starts (16)
- Games Played, 3,001
- Consecutive games, 2,632
- At bats, 11,551
- Hits, 3,184
- Runs, 1,647
- RBI, 1,695
- Extra Base Hits, 1078
- Doubles, 603
- Home runs, 431 (Baltimore has had five members of the 500 home run club on its roster, but none have hit more with the Orioles than Ripken)
- Total Bases, 5168
- Walks, 1,129
- Strikeouts, 1,305
- Assists, 8,212
- Double Plays, 1,682
Year Ag Tm Lg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG AVG +--------------+---+-----+----+----+---+--+---+----+----+----+----+--+--+----+----+----+ 1981 20 BAL AL 23 39 1 5 0 0 0 0 5 1 8 0 0 .150 .128 .128 1982 21 BAL AL 160 598 90 158 32 5 28 93 284 46 95 3 3 .317 .475 .264 1983 22 BAL AL 162 663 121 211 47 2 27 102 343 58 97 0 4 .371 .517 .318 1984 23 BAL AL 162 641 103 195 37 7 27 86 327 71 89 2 1 .374 .510 .304 1985 24 BAL AL 161 642 116 181 32 5 26 110 301 67 68 2 3 .347 .469 .282 1986 25 BAL AL 162 627 98 177 35 1 25 81 289 70 60 4 2 .355 .461 .282 1987 26 BAL AL 162 624 97 157 28 3 27 98 272 81 77 3 5 .333 .436 .252 1988 27 BAL AL 161 575 87 152 25 1 23 81 248 102 69 2 2 .372 .431 .264 1989 28 BAL AL 162 646 80 166 30 0 21 93 259 57 72 3 2 .317 .401 .257 1990 29 BAL AL 161 600 78 150 28 4 21 84 249 82 66 3 1 .341 .415 .250 1991 30 BAL AL 162 650 99 210 46 5 34 114 368 53 46 6 1 .374 .566 .323 1992 31 BAL AL 162 637 73 160 29 1 14 72 233 64 50 4 3 .323 .366 .251 1993 32 BAL AL 162 641 87 165 26 3 24 90 269 65 58 1 4 .329 .420 .257 1994 33 BAL AL 112 444 71 140 19 3 13 75 204 32 41 1 0 .364 .459 .315 1995 34 BAL AL 144 550 71 144 33 2 17 88 232 52 59 0 1 .324 .422 .262 1996 35 BAL AL 163 640 94 178 40 1 26 102 298 59 78 1 2 .341 .466 .278 1997 36 BAL AL 162 615 79 166 30 0 17 84 247 56 73 1 0 .331 .402 .270 1998 37 BAL AL 161 601 65 163 27 1 14 61 234 51 68 0 2 .331 .389 .271 1999 38 BAL AL 86 332 51 113 27 0 18 57 194 13 31 0 1 .368 .584 .340 2000 39 BAL AL 83 309 43 79 16 0 15 56 140 23 37 0 0 .310 .453 .256 2001 40 BAL AL 128 477 43 114 16 0 14 68 172 26 63 0 2 .276 .361 .239 +--------------+---+-----+----+----+---+--+---+----+----+----+----+--+--+----+----+----+ 21 Seasons 3001 11551 1647 3184 603 44 431 1695 5168 1129 1305 36 39 .340 .447 .276
- ↑ A-Rod whines his way out
- ↑ Article "baseball's iron man"
- ↑ Garciaparra nips Jeter in last week for All-Star start
- ↑ Top Ten Things to Do at Oriole Park at Camden Yards by Orioles Tickets, 2005. Retrieved December 14th, 2006.
- ↑ Calling his own number, Ripken ends the streak
- ↑ Baseball begins to bid farewell to Ripken, Gwynn
- ↑ Cal Ripken makes his 16th consecutive All-Star start
- MLB consecutive games played streaks
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
- Featured athlete on Fox Sports Net's Beyond the Glory
- DHL Hometown Heroes
- List of MLB individual streaks
- Baseball-Reference.com - Major league career statistics
- Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball Cards
- Ripken Baseball
- Aberdeen IronBirds
- Augusta GreenJackets
- The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation
- Baltimore Sun Special Section on Cal Ripken, Jr.
- The Sporting News' Baseball's 25 Greatest Moments: The New Iron Horse
|American League Rookie of the Year|
|American League Most Valuable Player|
|Major League Baseball All-Star Game|
Most Valuable Player
Ken Griffey, Jr.
|American League Most Valuable Player|
|Home Run Derby Champion|
|Lou Gehrig Memorial Award|
|Major League Baseball All-Star Game|
Most Valuable Player
|DATE OF BIRTH||1960|
|PLACE OF BIRTH|
|DATE OF DEATH|
|PLACE OF DEATH|