Calvin Edwin Ripken Jr. is an American retired baseball shortstop and third baseman, who was affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles of the Major League Baseball (MLB) for 21 seasons. During his career, he accumulated 3,184 hits, 431 home runs, and 1,695 runs batted in, becoming one of his position's most offensively productive players. He received two Gold Glove Awards for his defence and was named American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) twice and All-Star 19 times. A native of Maryland, he grew up all over US as his father was associated with the Orioles as a player and coach. Ripken began his professional career in 1981 and ended it in 2001 and never played for any other team besides the Orioles. Regarded as one of the best shortstops and third basemen in baseball history, he is the current holder of several records, including the consecutive games played (2,632) and the most home runs hit as a shortstop (345). In 2007, the year he became eligible for the accolade, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Ripken is also an author and businessperson and is involved with several charity initiatives.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on August 24, 1960, in Havre de Grace, Maryland, USA, Cal Ripken is one of the four children of Violet "Vi" Ripken (née Roberta) and Cal Ripken Sr., coach of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. He has two brothers, Fred and Billy, and one sister, Ellen.
He is of English, German, and Irish descent. For the family, Aberdeen, Maryland was home, but they moved around a lot because of his father’s professional commitment to the Orioles.
Ripken has been exposed to baseball since he was very young. When he was three years old, he decided that he would become a ballplayer. By the time he was ten years old, he knew everything about the sport. He studied at Aberdeen High School and was part of their baseball program.
At his high school, he started by playing second base but was shifted to shortstop during his sophomore year. His father was actively involved in his training. His younger brother, Billy, also studied at Aberdeen and later played for the Orioles. During his senior year, Ripken led the Aberdeen Eagles to a state championship.
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Cal Ripken was picked by the Baltimore Orioles in the second round of the 1978 Major League Baseball draft 48th overall. He started his minor-league career by being assigned to the Bluefield Orioles of the rookie Appalachian League, where he registered a batting average of .264 with 63 hits, 0 home run, and 24 RBIs.
In 1979, he was promoted to the Single-A Miami Orioles of the Florida State League. He also briefly played for the Charlotte Orioles of the Double-A Southern League before joining Baltimore’s 40-man roster in 1981.
Ripken had his MLB debut on August 10, 1981, in a game against the Kansas City Royals. The best year of his career was unarguably 1983 when he played a pivotal role in the Orioles’ World-Series-championship-winning MLB campaign. That year, he was included in the MLB All-Star game for the first time and received his first American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) accolade.
Between 1983 and 2001, he made appearances in all MLB All-Star games. He won his second AL MVP accolade in 1991 and the Gold Glove Awards in 1991 and 1992. He is also an eight-time Silver-Slugger-Award recipient (1983–86, 1989, 1991, 1993, and 1994). In 1992, he received the Roberto Clemente Award.
In 1999, he was chosen as the starting shortstop for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
He retired from professional baseball in 2001, after which his jersey number (#8) was retired by the Orioles. In 2007, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with 98.53% of votes.
Cal Ripken has authored several books, including a number of memoirs. He co-wrote 'Parenting Young Athletes the Ripken Way' with Rick Wolff. Published in 2006, the book contains Ripken’s advice on how to be a better parent to a young athlete.
He is also the author of ‘All Stars’ series, a collection of young-adult sports fiction books. Since 2005, he has been a regular contributor to the ‘Baltimore Sun,’ writing a weekly youth sports advice column for them.
Ripken serves as the President and CEO of the Ripken Baseball, Inc., which aims to develop the passion for baseball from the grassroots level. He is the owner of several minor league teams and has expressed his desire to purchase the Baltimore Orioles. Since October 2007, he has been serving as a baseball studio analyst for ‘TBS Sports.’
Family & Personal Life
Cal Ripken married Kelly Geer at Towson United Methodist Church on November 13, 1987. The couple has two children together, son Ryan and daughter Rachel.
In 2016, Ripken and Geer divorced. Two years later, he tied the knot with the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge, Laura S. Kiessling, née Kaufman.
Since his playing days, Ripken has been devoting both money and time to various charity initiatives. In 1988, he and his first wife set up the Cal Ripken Jr. Lifelong Learning Centre, which is dedicated to adult literacy.
Nicknamed “The Iron Man”, Ripken single-handedly changed how shortstops were utilized in games. Before him, a prototypical shortstop was a small and fast player who played a defensively tough position but often did not score the home run and batting average totals that an outfielder could have.
With his 6 ft 4 in, 225 lb stature, Ripken became one of the most domineering power hitters in MLB. Many people feel shortstops like Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, and Miguel Tejada are taking forward his legacy.
Ripken’s son, Ryan, has followed in his father’s footsteps into the world of baseball. He is currently signed to the Orioles and assigned to their Class A-Advanced affiliate, the Frederick Keys.