Mr. Ripken, who died Thursday at the age of 63, epitomized the way this area likes to see its teams and itself: unpretentious, thick-skinned, hard-working. During 36 years as a player, scout, coach and briefly as manager, he was often credited with instilling the "Oriole Way." Most Baltimore fans couldn't define the term exactly, but they liked that it implied reverence for the sport and the skills needed to play it well.
He was a catcher in the minor leagues during the 1960s, shifting to coaching after a misdiagnosed injury. He became a fixture as third-base coach when the Orioles were collecting championships by the crab bushel. Mr. Ripken became manager in 1987, gaining national attention because two of his sons were in his lineup, Cal Jr. and Billy. He was fired a week into the next season after the team lost its first six games; it went on to lose 21 in a row -- a baseball record. He was justifiably bitter about not having received a fair chance to manage and didn't attend a game at Camden Yards before his son broke Lou Gehrig's 56-year-old record for consecutive games.
Cal Jr., as unemotional a public persona as his father, wrote admiringly in his autobiography of how his parents toiled to raise four children when life in baseball guaranteed not beverage endorsements and multimillion dollar contracts, but cross-country car trips, countless laundromats and odd jobs in the off-season to make ends meet.
We join the community in our condolences to the Ripkens.