Testing, one, two . . . can you hear me in the back? Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the media. Thank you for coming. There are still a few seats up front if anyone's interested. Our plan is to read a brief statement, after which we'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Now that Cal Ripken has finally broken Lou Gehrig's record and played in his 2,131st consecutive game, many of you are asking: "Does this mean we have to stop the ceaseless barrage of Cal Ripken profiles, and the endless interviews with obscure figures from his boyhood years in Aberdeen?
"Must we stop providing the hazy recollections of former minor-league teammates now employed as boozy Toyota salesmen, or the mind-numbing minutiae of Cal's 14-year baseball career?"
Happily, the answer, in a nutshell, is: "Absolutely not!"
This week, for example, we can provide you with phone numbers and addresses for Cal's great-Aunt Eunice, as well as his eighth-grade shop teacher, Mr. Ike Fortas, who recalls a lively debate with young Cal over a brass candleholder project.
We can also put you in touch with a woman who once baby-sat Cal when he was 7 years old and who, I'm told, has several interesting anecdotes to relate. For example, she claims all she had to do was yell "Bedtime!" and Cal would scoot upstairs, get into his pajamas and brush his teeth.
Never gave her a bit of trouble. No matter when she called, he always came -- let's see, I have that quote here somewhere . . . ah, here it is -- "lickety-split."
The interview with the former baby-sitter -- she's a housewife now and a part-time employee at the Dairy Queen in Freehold, N.J., -- will probably be done via nationwide conference call. We'll alert you as to the date and time.
Also, for those of you who may not have heard, tonight all three local channels will be airing the award-winning retrospective "Cal Ripken: The Early Years -- Kindergarten and Even Earlier!"
The gentleman from the Times -- is he here? The one doing the piece comparing Cal to Joseph of Nazareth?
Sir, we feel you're on solid ground and that this is an excellent example of enterprise reporting.
Both men were humble, selfless, dedicated, small-town boys who made good.
Obviously, Cal never received a warning from God and took Mary and the infant Jesus into Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod.
Then again, Joseph never heard a 98-mph fastball from a wild-eyed Randy Johnson go whistling past his ear.
Interestingly enough, both Joseph and Cal were right-handed, which you may want to include in your story.
Now, a point of clarification: A few days ago, Cal was asked what he had for breakfast on May 30, 1982, the day The Streak began. As you'll recall, Cal's answer was: "Uh, I don't know . . . eggs and toast, I guess."
Cal now says he misspoke. He meant to say a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice and blueberry pancakes. He apologizes for misspeaking.
You see, the flight to Seattle was late that night and the team didn't get to its hotel until 3 in the morning and Cal was . . . well, let's just say he was understandably groggy as he was being interviewed.
So: OJ and pancakes is the correct answer. That information will be moving on the Associated Press and Reuters wires momentarily. But those of you with early deadlines may want to alert your editors right now.
As for the vicious rumor aired by at least two TV stations and published in a number of papers -- that Cal, as national spokesman for milk, does not even DRINK the stuff and is, in fact, lactose-intolerant -- this is such bilious claptrap that it hardly deserves comment.
Nevertheless, Cal wants to set the record straight. Therefore, there will be a photo opportunity today at 3 p.m. in the main ballroom at the media hotel, during which Cal will consume a number of glasses of milk, or possibly a bowl of his favorite cereal, Cap'n Crunch, with milk added.
Yes, yes, whole, skim and low-fat, Cal drinks them all. My God, what IS this, Watergate?
Finally, a number of newspapers have expressed a desire to publish a list of every player Cal has ever played with or against in both his minor- and major-league careers, including a "Where Are They Now?" feature chronicling every person he has ever MET in his life.
That information is now being fed through our computers and will be available in hard-copy form in the media workroom shortly. Bring a truss, is all I can say.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. And now if there are any questions . . .