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RIPKEN, CHEVROLET CUT DEAL

In the biggest commercial deal of his career, Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken has agreed to become a national spokesman for Chevrolet trucks -- lending his image of durability to vehicles General Motors Corp. promotes as tough "Like a Rock."

The two-year deal, scheduled to be announced today, calls for a series of television and print ads featuring Ripken. Ripken's fees will be about $500,000 over the two years, according to a source familiar with the arrangement.

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Ira S. Rainess, general counsel for the Tufton Group, a Baltimore County firm that coordinates Ripken's commercial contracts, declined to discuss the fees other than to say the deal is worth six figures but under $700,000.

Chevrolet stresses the durability and toughness of its trucks in relatively unflashy, straightforward ads. Ripken, poised to break Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games streak, is the antithesis of the modern, flamboyant athlete. Ripken also drives a Chevy Suburban. "It's a perfect match," Rainess said.


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