Cal Ripken, my all time favorite athlete in all of sports, turns 50 today (and to be honest, I’d rather see him at the hot corner, instead of just about anyone we’ve had there since he retired).
There is no need for me to rehash the numbers, we all know them. He is after all, a Hall-of-Famer.
When I was a kid, baseball was my favorite sport until I fell in love with hockey (but that’s another blog). Cal Ripken became my hero basically the second he set foot on the field for the first time.
I was 10 years old when he debuted, and I thought it was really cool that my initials are his name.
After the strike in 1994, baseball became less important to me on a national scale.Sure, the Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa battle, for the single season home run record, was fun to watch, but other than that my focus was solely on the O’s.
Once Cal retired, I’ve pretty much lost all interest in baseball.
It has become a month and a half long season to me. That gets me through the boring time between the NHL playoffs wrapping up in mid June and Ravens training camp opening in late July.
I’ve been told I’m a bad fan because I don’t keep up with the team during the season. Or if I start paying attention, IF they ever turn this thing around, then I’ll be a front runner. I think that’s a complete load of you know what (again that’s a topic for another blog).
If you took every player that has donned an Oriole jersey since Cal retired and combined them, they wouldn’t even come close to how much Cal meant to me. I’m sure people that watched Brooks Robinson play, feel the same away about him.
Cal was the last link to the 1983 World Series team which meant a great deal to me. I can still picture him jumping around with the ball in his glove after making the Series clinching catch. That image is forever burned into my brain.
That’s not to say there haven’t been players that I’ve liked. They just don’t compel me to watch them play, the way Cal did.
I had the pleasure of actually meeting Cal a few years ago.
My company had our summer party at an Iron Birds game. I don’t think he even got to see a single pitch of that game. He spent the entire night, signing autographs, posing for photos and chatting with all of us, never once complaining.
The picture of us together, which I had blown up and later got him to sign, is my most prized possession.
Enjoy the tribute below from Youtube.
Happy 50th Birthday to the Iron Man.