The Sun asked readers to share their thoughts on Cal Ripken Jr. as he was voted into the Hall of Fame. A sampling of their responses:
Thank God for Cal Ripken Jr.! Not only did he save baseball (as people outside Baltimore say), but he also has been the heart and soul of a lot of true Orioles fans in these past years of huge disappointment. Cal has given us all something to look forward to once again - being a Baltimore Orioles fan, wearing orange and black, with No. 8 on our backs.
Serving as a role model
I've been an Orioles fan and, even more so, a baseball fan since I can remember. As I became an adult, I was drawn to a specific player who I thought exhibited an ability to succeed in all aspects of the game of baseball and was aware of his responsibility as a role model for kids and young athletes. I found myself trying to emulate Cal, really by accident, especially in my coaching kids' sports.
Cal played at the highest level with the utmost respect from his peers, his passion so transparent to try to be better every game, obviously by the numerous batting stances, consecutive innings played and consecutive games played. Cal never seemed to be satisfied with his previous effort. He played with integrity, but also with an intensity to compete and to lead by example on and off the field.
Cal accomplished so much during an era of steroids, financial greed and a lack of commitment to a community and/or team.
Ripken has character
One characteristic a player must have to get into the Hall is integrity. Enough said.
He was good defensively, but his offense was average or below average when he was hurt. A temporary fill-in could have done better for the team at those times. He was not a team player.
The Streak does not make a Hall of Fame player.
Streak not needed
Would he be in without The Streak?
OK, there were all of the All-Star appearances, the hits, the home runs, the utility to play shortstop, no, I mean third base. What about ambassadorship? Who has done more for the sport than Cal both as a current and retired player? Anyone needing to witness what one person can do need only drive to Aberdeen and see the complex dedicated to the sport.
Just doing his job
Cal, I love you to death and for what you have done for Baltimore, but let's be honest. Would Cal be in the Hall of Fame without his streak? My answer is no.
If you look at Cal's other stats, nothing jumps out at you. Cal never led the majors or the American League in home runs, RBIs or any of the other major categories. To go a step further, Cal just did what everyone dreams about. He played a game that he enjoyed, and you can't take that away from him.
He did something he was supposed to do. If you have a job, you are supposed to come to work every day, especially if you want to get paid. He was also in a sport where he was in no threat of any major injuries as compared to football or hockey.
A man worth emulating
Cal is a man much to be admired, not just as a superior sportsman, but as a fine example of how we all might strive to be better friends, family members and citizens. He is not just a local hero; he is a man who conducts his life in a manner we all could emulate. Perhaps if more of our kids were reared and schooled in the "Ripken Way," we would have fewer juvenile criminals and a society of which we could all be proud.
Definition of a professional
When you say the name Cal Ripken Jr., words that come to my mind are "baseball," "gentleman," "professional" and "dedication." Cal gives each of those words its own definition, and he is the definition of all of them together.
There will never be another sportsperson who personifies everything that not only baseball was, but still should be, and who lives his life as he played - with heart and integrity.
He elevated the game, he lifted Baltimore up and with or without the Hall of Fame, his impact on Baltimore and baseball will be felt for years and years.