Renting out adult movies is a competitive business in Sarasota, Fla., and Video World has enlisted such heavyweight celebrities as Saddam Hussein and O. J. Simpson to attract customers.
But dropping the name of Cal Ripken -- baseball's embodiment of wholesomeness -- into a newspaper ad for X-rated movies was bit much, even for Video World.
"It was a tremendous error in judgment on my part," said a chastened Jay Waller, owner of Video World, which, he says, is a non-sleazy purveyor of sleazy movies.
Waller this week ran a 1-by-2-inch ad in the sports section of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, calling Video World "The Cal Ripken of Video Stores."
A typographical mistake in Wednesday's ad identified the store as "The Carl Ripken Jr. of Video Stores," presumably one error the newspaper does not regret.
Waller said he canceled the ad yesterday, even before getting the angry call from Ripken's lawyers, who closely guard his family-man reputation. The ad ran without their knowledge or approval.
"I said, 'What's the deal?' They said it was a poor attempt at humor. They are going to probably write an apology," said Ira Rainess, general counsel for the Tufton Group, the Baltimore County company that handles Ripken's endorsements.
Waller said he knocks out a couple of ads at a time, and tries to keep them fresh. "We're trying to lighten things up," he said.
During the the Persian Gulf War, he identified Video World as the "Mother of all Video Stores." More recently, he has asked readers which they would prefer on their TV sets, the O.J. Simpson trial or one of his cinematic selections.
The Ripken ad was an attempt to remind readers that, at 15, Video World is one of the oldest and, by extension, most durable video stores in town. Video World began as an all-purpose movie rental business, but switched to adult-only offerings a few years ago after competition from Blockbuster and other chains.
By the number: The Athletics' Rickey Henderson and Cardinals' Lonnie Smith had a major-league high 45 runs on May 30, 1982, the day Ripken's streak began.
2.086: Consecutive games Ripken has played
2,130: Lou Gehrig's record
Sept. 6: Projected date to break record