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Cal Ripken Jr.

Former Oriole Bill Ripken reads to young baseball fans at Abingdon Library

Former Oriole Bill Ripken reads to young baseball fans at Abingdon Library

When former Baltimore Oriole Bill Ripken was 8 years old, he was a bat boy for a minor-league baseball team in Asheville, N.C., managed by his father, Cal Ripken Sr.

One of his jobs was to take the mud from the ground under the dugout water fountain and rub it evenly over the surface of new and shiny white baseballs before giving them to the umpire, so the balls were ready for play.

It's a baseball tradition that continues to this day, according to Ripken, who told the story to children gathered in front of him at the Abingdon Library Saturday.

He told the children that Major League Baseball purchases mud gathered from the banks of the Mississippi River and the...

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