Later, Ripken said he thought of the flower gesture as a way to express his feelings because "I wasn't sure I could say the words."
This time, he figured, he would make another gesture and include his son.
"I wanted to create a message that had a lot of meaning," he said. "I had the idea; the only question was whether I could get through it."
Ultimately, it ended up being one of the lightest moments of his speech, along with his opener in which he relayed a story about a 10-year-old kid he recently was instructing at a baseball camp.
The boy grilled him on whether he had played baseball, whom he had played for and what position he had played.
"He began to walk away. He looked back and said, 'Should I know you?'" Ripken said, as the crowd laughed. "That certainly puts all this in perspective."
Perhaps the most surprising part of Ripken's speech was the short list of people he specifically thanked. Former San Diego Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn, the other 2007 Hall of Fame inductee, spent most of his 28-minute speech detailing his career and thanking a legion of those involved.
But Ripken used his 16 minutes to focus on his message of promoting baseball and providing opportunities for children.
The only people outside his family that he mentioned by name were former Orioles teammates Eddie Murray, John Shelby and Brady Anderson, whom he referred to as "simply my best friend," Orioles athletic trainer Richie Bancells and former coach Jimmy Williams.
He said he couldn't mention everyone who helped him along the way because there were so many, so he chose Murray and Anderson and a couple of less recognizable friends who made a difference in his life and career.
"Jimmy Williams was my Double-A manager," Ripken said. "John 'T-Bone' Shelby probably was a big surprise. A lifelong friend, we started out together and we struggled together and it was really important getting through those periods. ... And Richie Bancells is my lifelong friend, and he was there my first day in pro ball and is still there."
Bancells, for one, seemed touched and surprised by Ripken's words.
"It was overwhelming, really," Bancells said. "When I think about the mention, it's got to be one of the highlights of my career."
But Bancells said the speech overall was what he expected.
"He does things from the heart," he said. "It doesn't surprise me that he had a well-prepared speech with a very strong message. But also it didn't surprise me because it came from the heart. That's him."
In retrospect, Ripken said, his delivery could have used some fine-tuning.
"I thought I sped too much," he said. "I really wanted to make the points. I wanted to speak slower. I wanted to let some of the points sink in. ... I wish I had controlled the emotions well enough to go a little slower. [But] I was happy the overall message got out."
One friend and former teammate, David Segui, chuckled at the idea that Ripken, a consummate perfectionist, wasn't happy with his overall performance.
And even though it's over now, Segui figures Ripken might still work on it to perfect the timing.
"He missed his mark by one minute," Segui said, laughing. "So you know he is going to do it 25 more times on the ride home to get it right."