July 29, 2007
Since 2001, my first year covering the Orioles and Cal Ripken Jr.'s final year playing for them, I've probably written tens of thousands of words about Aberdeen's favorite son. Now, as No. 8 officially joins the sport's other immortals in the Baseball Hall of Fame, writing again about Ripken seems unavoidable.
This time, though, we'll let those within the game do the talking.
No hearing from current Orioles. Or from the club's legends and Hall of Famers. Or from anyone else you've heard babble on incessantly about him over the years.
Collected throughout the first half of the season, here are comments from guys who managed or played with Ripken, against Ripken or simply watched from afar. People currently in other major league uniforms who have shared their thoughts about the Orioles' new Hall of Famer.
On Ripken's attitude: "Cal exemplified how the game should be played. Cal always had a great respect for the game. Where that came from? I know his dad was a big influence." -- New York Yankees manager Joe Torre
On Ripken's playing style: "He played hard every day; that's what I liked. I like those guys that give it their all every day. He definitely is someone I tried to mimic coming up." -- Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Carl Crawford
On the difficulty of 2,632 consecutive games played: "In over two years, I played in 330 games and it felt like an eternity. I have the greatest respect and appreciation for what he did. I can't believe he didn't have a sore this or sore that. I know he did; it is part of the game. But it's the fact that he got over that. I played in 300-something and it felt like 20 years. So what he did was amazing." -- Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Jason Bay
On Ripken as a player: "He was one of my favorite shortstops ever. Him and Davey Concepcion. He was both a great hitter and a great fielder. He had everything. I liked the man a lot and couldn't wait to meet him through the years. He is one of the greatest." -- Detroit Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillen
On Ripken setting the bar high for shortstops: "He really set the stage for taller shortstops, more offensive shortstops.When you are coming up, and people say you are too tall, your first line of defense is, 'Look at Cal Ripken.'" -- New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter
On Ripken as a case study: "I played shortstop my whole life and watched shortstops. I knew if I was going to be a shortstop, I was going to be big. And he was someone I had to study. He was just so successful." -- Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki
On Ripken's 2,632nd game, watched on TV: "My dad was a huge Orioles fan, so you kind of watched [Ripken] and you grew up seeing him. As a kid, I was watching the game when he broke the record and he was running around the field, shaking everyone's hand, and you realized what it was at the time. But you don't realize how special that was until you start playing the game." -- Cleveland Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore
On Ripken's work ethic: "The three years I was here, we took infield every day. Cal Ripken took infield every day. He took batting practice every day and played every inning of every game. For anybody to come up with little aches and pains around here and decide they are going to take the day off or didn't want to take infield ...all you had to do is look out there at shortstop and see that guy every day." -- Arizona Diamondbacks manager and former Orioles catcher Bob Melvin
On Ripken helping teammates: "I listened to what Cal had to say every day. He was just filled with information and one of the true superstars who actually shared knowledge." -- Pittsburgh Pirates hitting coach and former Oriole Jeff "Mickey" Manto
On Ripken giving back while a player: "On travel days, the opposing team always had bats and stuff for Cal to sign. One time [in 1995] we were in Anaheim and I just blurted out, 'Cal doesn't this get tiring?' And he straight-faced me and said, 'Ya know what,Mick? It's just great to be wanted.' I looked at him and was like, 'You gotta be kidding me.' But he was very sincere. The legend is only going to continue to grow because he was always genuine in his thoughts about people." -- Manto
On Ripken giving back after he retired: "When I was switching to shortstop, he was in Texas for something and he asked me how my transition was going and he gave me a few pointers. Those are some things, that as a player, you never forget. When someone takes time out of their schedule to help you learn the game." -- Texas Rangers shortstop Michael Young
On Ripken making the Hall of Fame: "I couldn't be more pleased and I know the way he conducts himself, he is very touched by this whole thing and yet he is going to express his feelings. I think it is great. When you think Cal Ripken, it really puts a smile on your face." -- The Yankees' Torre
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