Aberdeen beams over its local hero


About 7,000 people showed up Thursday evening when Aberdeen threw a parade for its hometown hero, Cal Ripken Jr., who the night before broke New York Yankee great Lou Gehrig's streak of playing in 2,130 consecutive major-league baseball games.

The parade featured seven high school bands, 11 floats and more than 1,000 young baseball players.

"It was just like a big high," said Peter Dacey, Aberdeen's city manager. "We just felt so good about everything."

The parade celebrating the record-breaking game by the Orioles shortstop, whose parents still live in Aberdeen, was attended by more people than attended the city's centennial parade three years ago. "This was the biggest-attended parade I've seen in my nine years here," Mr. Dacey said.

Cal Ripken Sr. and Vi Ripken spoke after the parade. Their son was en route to Cleveland, where the Orioles are playing a series against the Indians.

City officials and others then gathered at City Hall to unveil a sign for a planned museum honoring the Ripken family. The museum will be housed in the building starting next spring.

Cal Ripken Sr. was a coach and manager with the Orioles. Bill Ripken, Cal Jr.'s younger brother, also plays professional baseball and played for the Orioles from 1987 to 1992.

In a ceremony after Wednesday's record-breaking game, former Orioles shortstop Mark Belanger, a special assistant to Major League Baseball Players Association leader Donald Fehr, said the players union would build a stadium and park for children -- to be called Inspiration Field -- in Aberdeen in honor of Cal Ripken Jr.

Mayor Charles R. Boutin said he hopes the two-diamond field will be completed next year. The players association has agreed to donate $75,000 for the field. The city is using 7 acres it owns on Route 22, east of Post Road.

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