|A COMPLETE PLAYER WITH AN IRON WILL.|
|NICE NUMBERS, NICER PERSON.|
DEFINING THE PLAYER
- Cal Ripken made going to work every day cool. While the rest of us take a sick day at the first sniffle or occasionally mail in our performance, Ripken played baseball like he was interviewing for his job. He was a model employee for 21 years with the Orioles, playing in a record 2,632 consecutive games at a Hall of Fame level at shortstop and third. The 19-time All-Star had 3,184 hits and 431 homers, a record 345 as a shortstop. He won two AL MVPs, the Rookie of the Year in '82 and surprisingly only two Gold Gloves. Ripken was repeatedly denied gold by primarily Omar Vizquel, #36 Tony Fernandez or #18 Alan Trammell during his 17-year reign at shortstop.
- On Sept. 6, 1995, Ripken surpassed Lou Gehrig's 56-year-old record for consecutive games played at 2,130. It wasn't a token appearance either. In that 2,131st game, Ripken went 2-for-4, including a homer in the fourth off the Angels' Shawn Boskie before the game became official in the fifth. That's when teammates pushed Ripken out of the dugout to acknowledge the hometown fans, and he took a victory lap around Camden Yards. It remains one of the most touching tributes I've ever witnessed.
- In '91, Ripken won his second AL MVP, posting a major-league-leading 11.5 WAR while hitting .323 with 34 homers and 114 RBI. He posted a .940 OPS and 163 OPS+.
FIVE FINAL FACTS
- Third baseman Doug DeCinces, whom Ripken received tips from as a youngster, was traded before the '82 season to open the position for the rookie who was called up in '81.
- On May 29, 1982, Ripken didn't play in the second game of a doubleheader against the Jays. It would be the last he'd miss until Sept. 20, 1998, when he voluntarily ended the streak.
- He was moved from third to shortstop on July 1 by Manager Earl Weaver, who said it's harder to find a shortstop who can hit than a third baseman. That's what happens when your manager has great-field-no-hit Mark Belanger at short for all those years.
- Moving Ripken was a stroke of genius as he became the new shortstop template: a sure-handed middle-infield who could be a middle-of-the-order run-producer.
- Holds at least one all-time record for either season, career or most seasons leading the league in putouts, fielding percentage, assists, fewest errors and double plays.
|DITTO FOR THE BAT.|