A baseball legend shook hands Wednesday with an athlete-turned-clothier, sealing a business deal they hope will benefit both.
Cal Ripken Jr., the Orioles Hall of Famer who heads the marketing firm that bears his name, announced a five-year partnership with Under Armour Inc., the Baltimore-based performance apparel giant run by Kevin A. Plank, a former football player at the University of Maryland.
Under Armour will outfit the minor league Aberdeen IronBirds as well as the 10 domestic teams taking part in the Cal Ripken World Series this summer. The company also becomes the title sponsor for 25 Ripken youth tournaments in which 35,000 players participate annually.
In addition, Under Armour will publicize baseball training videos featuring Ripken on its Web site, and Ripken Baseball will promote the Under Armour All-America Baseball Game.
"It's a perfect match," Ripken said. "Under Armour is the coolest brand around. My son Ryan has been telling me that for years. Our youth teams will be a 'feedback arm' for their research and development."
"It's an obvious choice," said Plank, referring to the local ties of both men. Plank grew up in Kensington, and Ripken is from Aberdeen.
Plank started his company in 1995 while attending Maryland. Coincidentally, that was the same year Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played (2,130).
"I remember watching that game at college with my roommate, [quarterback] Scott Milanovich," Plank said. "The next day, we both drew the number 2,131 on our biceps before our football game."
Ripken said that he is a fan of Plank's as well.
"He is an everyday player in his work," Ripken said. "You can tell by his passion."