When Cal Ripken Jr. retired in 2001, there was an overwhelming sentiment about his future: No matter what he did post-playing career, baseball's Iron Man would be successful.
His drive, work ethic and insatiable curiosity continue to be on display as he recently turned 55. Whether it's as a business executive running youth baseball camps and minor league franchises, a TV baseball analyst, speaker or author, Ripken has stayed exceptionally busy.
Recently at the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation headquarters, the Hall of Famer sat down with Baltimore Sun baseball writer Dan Connolly to discuss the 20th anniversary of Ripken breaking baseball's consecutive-games streak on Sept. 6, 1995. But he also talked about what life outside of the white lines has been like and what his future might hold.
Here's Part 2 of that interview:
When you look back on these past 20 years, more than half has been spent in roles other than baseball player. How satisfied are you with Cal Ripken post-baseball?
I'm curious. I like to learn. I like to do new things. I like to stay busy and you like to feel like you're accomplishing something. With the kids' business, the tournament business and the camps business, I feel like I'm accomplishing things and I'm kind of doing what Dad did, and you're kind of passing on [his knowledge]. In my estimation, Dad [a lifelong baseball player, instructor, coach and manager in the Orioles organization] was the encyclopedia of baseball. We're passing some of those things on to give other kids opportunities. So I feel really good about that. The minor league baseball business is a good opportunity to learn about business. And it was something that was close to me because my first 14 years of my life, Dad was a manager in the minor leagues so we went around to all kinds of different minor league environments. So that gave me comfort.
The broadcasting thing is interesting. It keeps me close to the game. It puts me in a ballpark and I'm teamed with Ron Darling and Ernie Johnson, two pros of pros that help me out a lot. I don't have a great deal of experience in that, but it allows me to articulate and interpret the game the way I saw it. And so that's been fun for me. I like doing that. And some of the other opportunities, some of the things we do, you need corporate partners and we've had corporate partners in a lot of the things we've done. So I've enjoyed that. I've gone out and delivered speeches, which I'm trying to figure out. When the speakers' bureaus came at me they said, "You have a story to tell." And I go, "Oh yeah, what is it?" But in the end, it's just sharing a story or sharing some thoughts and principles. And you don't know if you can speak in front of all these people until you do it. So I've enjoyed going out and doing those sorts of things, so there's not this one thing that keeps you going every single day. It's a variety of things and it's been a fun time for me.
What do you see yourself doing in five, 10 years?
I'll be connected to baseball in some way. Whether it's at the kids' level — we're starting to get into some older programs, more specialty camps where we can actually help kids achieve their dreams to kind of market themselves to colleges and get a chance to play afterward. So I hope to get more into the teaching aspect of it. Because, in some ways, we've gotten away from that just a little bit. But it would be good to go back into that. Don't know necessarily where [in] five years I'll be, but I'll be connected to baseball somehow.
You've talked in the past about an "itch" to return to Major League Baseball, and again recently reports surfaced about a potential managerial discussion you previously had with the Washington Nationals. What's the latest, and is the itch still there?
I have to take pause, because I don't get all the hoopla and all the speculation that occurs. I try to answer the questions kind of honestly and I know my expertise is in between the white lines of baseball and there's always a side of me that thinks about that. But there are a lot of other opportunities that I'm going through. It amazes me that I was promoting the Kevin Spacey event we're going to have and we are down in D.C. and you're asked all kinds of questions. And I'm thinking I'm answering the questions the same way I always do. And all of a sudden there's a swelling of interest and then speculation on top of speculation. So I'm not sure [why]. And I think the only thing different I said this time was that I was 55 and that's kind of relatively young. Because people are thinking, "God, you're getting older, you've got to do something." I don't see it that way. If there was an opportunity or something that would come up, in any aspect of things, I would just be honest enough to think about it and listen to it and evaluate it.
Could you see yourself concentrating on one thing in the future, instead of focusing on myriad business opportunities?
I think probably just doing one thing would give you a chance to have more success at one thing (laughs). I don't know. I don't analyze it that way. I think part of the variety [is] I'm always a curious person. Part of the things that I do, in a variety-sense, is it's interesting that way. But I did one thing for 21 years as a player. And, so, focusing your attention on one thing, sure I could do that.
Do you have any updates on your family, how they are doing?
Everybody continues to go along life in a way that we all do, I suppose. It's interesting. Rachel is 26 now. She's out in Colorado. She works for the university out there, which is really cool. Ryan, it's interesting. He's in the Nats organization. And he had some ... he was a little unlucky. He hurt his ankle and that required surgery. So he's been out for a while, but I've enjoyed talking to him and seeing his ups and downs and his grinds, going through that. But as we all get older, you realize that the time goes faster and faster and you start to appreciate some of the things that you have.
With the culmination of the 20th-year anniversary of the Streak and the time spent reflecting on your past recently, are there any summing-up thoughts about you, your career, the Streak and what it all means?
I'm not sure what it all means. I've always looked at myself as one of the lucky ones that got a chance to fulfill a dream and play baseball. I got a chance to play for a long time, virtually almost all of those games in a row. And to have that opportunity, and do it in your hometown, I always thought I was the lucky one. I never saw the accomplishment of playing all those games in the same fashion everybody else did. I was playing a game and I was doing what I loved to do, so I was lucky. And I was able to do some things that all kids want to do. That's how I see it.