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Cal Ripken, Jr.

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Cal Ripken redirects here to Cal Ripken, Jr. For the father of Cal Ripken, Jr., see Cal Ripken, Sr.
Cal Ripken, Jr. in 1993
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Cal Ripken, Jr. in 1993

Calvin Edwin Ripken, Jr. (born August 24, 1960 in Havre de Grace, Maryland) is a former shortstop and third baseman in Major League Baseball who played his entire career for the Baltimore Orioles from 1981 to 2001. Raised in Aberdeen, his father, Cal Sr., was a long-time coach in baseball who managed the Orioles in the late 1980s. His brother, Billy Ripken, played second base for various teams, including the Orioles. He has two other siblings, Ellie and Fred.

Ripken was known as the iron man of baseball, playing 2,632 straight games spanning fifteen seasons without missing a single game (May 30, 1982 - September 20, 1998). He played his 2131st consecutive game on September 6, 1995, breaking the 56-year-old record set by New York Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig. During this streak, Ripken played in 8,243 straight innings from June 5, 1982, to September 14, 1987, also considered to be a record, although not an "official" one as the major leagues have not traditionally kept statistics on innings played by non-pitchers.

In addition to Ripken's legendary durability, he, along with gamers such as Robin Yount, is credited with redefining the shortstop position. Many of the game's current top shortstops, including Alex Rodriguez, name Ripken as their inspiration while growing up. Though he was brought up through the minor leagues as a third baseman, then-manager Earl Weaver gave him an audition at shortstop when he was first brought up to the Major League ballclub. Weaver's actions raised quite a few eyebrows; at 6'4", 225 lbs, Ripken was an enormous departure from the protypical shortstop of the time - small, fleet-of-foot players who play great defense, but are offensive liabilities. Nonetheless, Ripken demonstrated the ability to play adequate defense at shortstop, and as a result remained a fixture there for well over a decade.

Cal Ripken retired on October 6, 2001 and built a new stadium in Aberdeen, where he played baseball as a boy. He is a part owner of the Aberdeen IronBirds, a minor league baseball team associated with the Orioles. Ripken has also made generous donations to charity causes, including many donations supporting research on Lou Gehrig's disease.

Ripken's first appearance on the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame will be in January 2007; he is considered a virtual lock for election in his first year of eligibility. If, as expected, he is elected, he will be inducted in the summer of 2007.

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