Cal Ripken is baseball’s all-time Iron Man. He retired from baseball in October, 2001 after 21 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. His name appears in the record books repeatedly, most notably as one of only eight players in history to achieve 400 home runs and 3,000 hits. On July 29, 2007 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Cal received the 3rd highest percentage of votes in history, collecting the highest vote total ever by the BBWAA.
In 1995, Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s Major League record for consecutive games played (2,130) and in 1996 he surpassed Japanese great Sachio Kinugasa’s streak of 2,215 straight games and voluntarily ended his streak on September 20, 1998 after playing 2,632 consecutive games. Although he began and finished his career at third base, Cal is still best known for redefining the position of shortstop.
Ripken’s name has become synonymous with strength, character, perseverance and integrity. In 1999, Babe Ruth League Inc. changed the name of its largest division (5-12 year-olds) from Bambino to Cal Ripken Baseball. Presently, over 700,000 youths play Cal Ripken Baseball worldwide.
Now Ripken is using the platform that baseball has provided him to help grow the game he loves at the grassroots level. After his playing career ended he started this effort with the construction of a one-of-a-kind baseball complex in his hometown of Aberdeen, MD. The Aberdeen Project consists of Ripken Stadium and the Ripken Youth Baseball Academy. Ripken Stadium is a state-of-the-art minor league ballpark that is home to the Aberdeen IronBirds (www.IronBirdsBaseball.com) the Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The Ripken Youth Baseball Academy hosts ballplayers and teams from across the country for camps and tournaments during the spring, summer and fall. (www.RipkenBaseball.com)
The academy is also the permanent home of the Cal Ripken World Series played each August. It includes 16 teams of 11 and 12 year olds from all over the world and crowns the champion of the Cal Ripken Division of Babe Ruth League, Inc. The team from Japan captured the 2011 Cal Ripken World Series title.
In addition, Ripken Professional Baseball owns the Augusta (GA) GreenJackets (www.GreenJacketsBaseball.com), the Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants as well as the Charlotte (FL) Stone Crabs (www.StoneCrabsBaseball.com) the Class A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. Ripken Professional Baseball also runs the business operations for the Tampa Bay Rays spring training site in Port Charlotte, FL.
In the fall of 2007 Ripken was named as a Special Public Diplomacy Envoy to the U.S. State Department. In that role he travels the globe and uses baseball as a tool to spread goodwill. In October of 2007 he traveled to China with former teammate B.J. Surhoff in this role and in November of 2008 he visited Nicaragua with former teammate and Nicaraguan native Dennis Martinez. His most recent trip came in November of 2011 when he and former teammate Brady Anderson visited Japan and spent time with the children impacted by the great earthquake and tsunami that devastated much of Japan in March of 2011.
Due to the success of the Aberdeen complex as a tournament destination and the desire to grow the game of baseball worldwide, Ripken opened the Ripken Experience complex in Myrtle Beach, SC. This complex hosts youth baseball tournaments with teams across the United States.
Ripken is also a best-selling author and a highly sought after public speaker. His books have all landed on various best seller lists and he currently has five books to his credit: The Only Way I Know; Play Baseball The Ripken Way; Parenting Young Athletes The Ripken Way; The Longest Season and Get In The Game: 8 Elements of Perseverance That Make The Difference. In the spring of 2011 his first novel hit bookstores. Hothead, the first in a series of baseball themed novels for middle grade kids, is published by the Disney Book Group and reached #5 on the NY Times Best Seller List. The next book in the series, Super-Sized Slugger, will be in stores in March of 2012.
Cal is also a spokesman for several well known brands across the country including: Energizer, Under Armour, Rawlings, Comcast, State Farm Insurance, Ripken Power Shred, Chevy and more. . He and his brother Bill, a 12-year Major League veteran, host a weekly radio program on XM/Sirius Satellite Radio and Cal is a member of the TBS broadcast team during Major League Baseball’s postseason.
Ripken has always placed a strong focus on giving back to the community. In 2001 he and his family established the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation (www.RipkenFoundation.org) in memory of the family’s patriarch. The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, working throughout the country with Boys & Girls Clubs, P.A.L. centers, inner-city schools, and other organizations serving America’s most distressed communities.
The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2011, helps to build character and teach critical life lessons to disadvantaged young people through baseball and softball themed programs.
The many on-field accolades that Cal received during his illustrious playing career include: AL Rookie of the Year (’82), two time AL Most Valuable Player (’83, ’91), two time Gold Glove recipient (’91, ’92), two time All-Star MVP (’91, ’01), a world record 2,632 consecutive games and 19 All-Star Game selections. In addition, his 2,131st consecutive game was voted by fans as MLB’s “Most memorable Moment” in baseball history and Cal was named to the MLB All-Century Team at shortstop.
Ripken resides in Maryland with his wife, Kelly, and their children, Rachel and Ryan.