Orioles Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. on return to team: “If you wait long enough, there might not be an opportunity to come back”

March 10, 2011 | Ryan Chell

Cal Ripken Jr.

Oriole great and Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. is an idol in the city of Baltimore. It’s his town, and he certainly followed the legacy of his famous father in making Baltimore great during and after his playing days as an Oriole.

Ripken has made an impact on the youth level for Ripken Baseball, been a huge part of the Orioles minor league system with his Single-A Aberdeen Ironbirds, been an ambassador of the game of baseball to other countries, and even an insightful broadcaster for TBS and the MLB Network.

He even has dabbled in authorship, as he recently co-wrote a book along with Kevin Cowherd called “Hothead”, a fictional yet inspirational story of anger affecting play on the field.

Ripken Jr. has been all over Baltimore lately-except one place in particular. And it may be the one destination Orioles fans want to see Cal Ripken Jr.

They want to see their “Iron Man” back in some fashion with the Orioles. And they feel like Ripken’s success-which include a Rookie of the Year, World Series title, 2 AL MVPs, 19-All-Stars and a first-ballot Hall of Famer-can rub off on a franchise marred in 14 straight losing seasons.

But with all that Ripken has been doing right now, despite telling “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider and Glenn Clark Tuesday that the curiosity on both sides has initiated some discussion, he is still not anywhere near close to taking a role with the Orioles as a coach, front office, or ownership position due to his son, Ryan, still being in high school.

“I had been in talks with Andy MacPhail and I had also been in talks with Peter Angelos for quite a bit and basically we’re talking about making a bridge,” Ripken said. “It was because I wasn’t ready to do something now because I had made a commitment to myself that I was going to get my kids off to college.”

Ryan is a junior at Gilman, and so far appears to be the only thing holding Cal Jr. from taking on a job with the Orioles maybe in the same role his father did as a coach, manager, and scout.

All-in-all though, he said right now, it’s just tough because he admitted that with his son still around, he wouldn’t want to cheat him or his other family in the Orioles by not giving either the proper time commitment needed.

“If you’re a coach or a manager or if you’re upstairs in a bigger decision-making position, you’re tied to that schedule and it wouldn’t allow you to see your kids off to school,” Ripken said.

But last year after the firing of Dave Trembley as manager, he did admit that being asked to come in to evaluate the team was a process that sparked some interest out of him and put a twinkle in his eye.

“It was fun looking into it last year because they had an immediate need,
Ripken told Snider and Clark.

Ripken though was blessed to be able to see manager Buck Showalter come in from the broadcast booth at Baseball Tonight and light a spark under a disappointed and beaten 2010 Orioles team.

He feels like the team is in good hands with Buck at the helm.

“I was happy to see Buck come in and I was happy to see the Orioles turn it around,” Ripken said.”Buck’s an excellent baseball guy, and he pays attention to detail. I think that’s the only slight criticism you might have of him is that he pays attention to all the details.”

Ripken’s biggest observation of the change Buck Showalter has instituted on this team? He said from day one, Showalter has eliminated the focus of the uphill climb ahead of them and has the team believing from the first day he stepped into the dugout that this was a winning team.

“He’s changed the culture,” Ripken admitted. “I know I felt it when I came out to throw the first pitch last year. He invited me to the locker room and I sat in his office. Guys were coming in, and they had a looseness about them that he really understood baseball.”

It was there that Ripken also got a sense of what it looks like to see what Buck is doing from an outside perspective.

“It’s pretty miraculous from where I sit with what he was able to do as a manager last year,” Ripken said. “And he’s created a higher level of expectations for us fans.”

However, Cal Ripken Jr. does know that the entire city of Baltimore is holding their breath and waiting for the news of a return on his part.

But he does know that being away from the game too long is not in his best interest, and that if he is to return to the Orioles in some fashion, it must be soon.

“The risk I took when I was moved away from the game of professional baseball was if you wait long enough, there might not be an opportunity to come back.”

“So, we’ll start to look at that in a year or two.”

WNST thanks Cal Ripken Jr. for joining “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider and we continue to wait till the day #8 is back in an Oriole uniform of some sort! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!