Cal Ripken Jr.
Cal Ripken is baseball’s all-time Iron Man. He retired from baseball in October, 2001 after 21 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. His name appears in the record books repeatedly, most notably as one of only ten players in history to achieve 400 home runs and 3,000 hits. On July 29, 2007 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Cal received the 4th highest percentage of votes in history, collecting the second highest vote total ever by the BBWAA.
In 1995, Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s Major League record for consecutive games played (2,130) and in 1996 he surpassed Japanese great Sachio Kinugasa’s streak of 2,215 straight games and voluntarily ended his streak on September 20, 1998 after playing 2,632 consecutive games. Although he began and finished his career at third base, Cal is still best known for redefining the position of shortstop.
Ripken’s name has become synonymous with strength, character, perseverance and integrity. In 1999, Babe Ruth League Inc. changed the name of its largest division (5-12 year-olds) from Bambino to Cal Ripken Baseball. Presently, over 700,000 youths play Cal Ripken Baseball worldwide.
In this chapter of his life Ripken is using the platform that baseball has provided him to help grow the game he loves at the grassroots level. After his playing career ended he started this effort with the construction of a one-of-a-kind baseball complex in his hometown of Aberdeen, Maryland. The Aberdeen project consists of Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium and The Ripken Experience Aberdeen youth baseball complex. Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium is a minor league ballpark that is home to the Aberdeen IronBirds (www.IronBirdsBaseball.com) the Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The Ripken Experience complex hosts ballplayers and teams from across the country for camps and tournaments during the spring, summer and fall. (www.RipkenBaseball.com)
Due to the success of the Aberdeen youth complex as a tournament destination and the desire to grow the game of baseball worldwide, Ripken has since opened three additional destinations: The Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, The Ripken Experience in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and The Ripken Experience at Disney World in Orlando, Florida with an eye on future expansion.
In December 2015, Ripken was named Special Adviser to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on youth programs and outreach. In this role, Ripken advises the Commissioner and MLB’s Youth Programs Department regarding strategies and initiatives designed to grow the sports of baseball and softball at the amateur and youth levels. A particular focus will be placed on ways to provide access to quality playing opportunities for children in underserved communities and getting kids more energized and engaged with baseball.
In the fall of 2007, Ripken was named as a Special Public Diplomacy Envoy to the U.S. State Department. In that role he traveled the globe and uses baseball as a tool to spread goodwill. In October of 2007, he traveled to China with former teammate B.J. Surhoff in this role and in November of 2008, he visited Nicaragua with former teammate and Nicaraguan native Dennis Martinez. In November of 2011, he and former teammate Brady Anderson visited Japan and spent time with the children impacted by the great earthquake and tsunami that devastated much of Japan in March of 2011.
Ripken’s most recent diplomacy trip came in March of 2018 when he visited Prague and surrounding areas in the Czech Republic to advance the cause of baseball and help its meteoric rise in that country.
Ripken is also a best-selling author and a highly sought-after public speaker. His books have all landed on various best-seller lists including The Only Way I Know; Play Baseball The Ripken Way; Parenting Young Athletes The Ripken Way; The Longest Season and Get In The Game: 8 Elements of Perseverance That Make The Difference. In the spring of 2011, he launched a series of youth novels with a baseball theme through Disney Book Group. The sixth and final book in the series was released in 2016.
Ripken has always placed a strong focus on giving back to the community. In 2001, he and his family established the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation (www.RipkenFoundation.org) in memory of the family’s patriarch. The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving underserved communities nationwide. Since its inception the foundation has impacted over 10 Million kids in underserved communities. They have constructed and gifted over 100 Youth Development Parks, multi-purpose fields that provide kids with safe places to play and learn and, most recently, they have started to create STEM Centers in elementary and middle schools across the country.
Due to his success in business and his business acumen Ripken was asked to join the Board of Directors of ZeniMax, one of the video game industries biggest publishers and the Advisory Board of DraftKings, the worldwide leader in sports gaming.
The many on-field accolades that Cal received during his illustrious playing career include: AL Rookie of the Year (’82), two-time AL Most Valuable Player (’83, ’91), two-time Gold Glove recipient (’91, ’92), two-time All-Star MVP (’91, ’01), a world record 2,632 consecutive games and 19 All-Star Game selections. In addition, his 2,131st consecutive game was voted by fans as MLB’s “Most memorable Moment” in baseball history and Cal was named to the MLB All-Century Team at shortstop.