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 Experience Aberdeen Powered by Under Armour youth baseball complex. Ripken Stadium is a state-of-the-art minor league ballpark that is home to the Aberdeen IronBirds the Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The Ripken Experience complex hosts ballplayers and teams from across the country for camps and tournaments during the spring, summer and fall.
Due to the success of the Aberdeen youth 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. Today, Ripken is working to replicate the proven Ripken Experience model in other markets across the country, including its latest complex in Pigeon Forge, TN, set to open in Spring 2016.In December 2015, Ripken was named Special Adviser to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on youth programs and outreach at the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee. Within this role, Ripken advises the Commissioner and MLB’s Youth Programs Department regarding strategies and initiatives designed to grow the sports of baseball and softball at the amateur and youth levels. A particular focus will be placed on ways to provide access to quality playing opportunities for children in underserved communities.
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.
Ripken is also a best-selling author and a highly sought after public speaker. His books have all landed on various best seller lists including 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, he launched a series of youth novels with a baseball theme through Disney Book Group. The sixth and final book in the series will be release in March of 2016.
Cal continues to serve as a spokesman for well-known brands including Under Armour, Oppenheimer, Northern Safety, PNC Bank, Lucido Realty and Miller Brothers Chevrolet. Cal is also a broadcaster, working regular season and post-season games for TBS.
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 in memory of the family’s patriarch. The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, using baseball as a hook to get in front of underserved youth nationwide and make a positive impact on their lives.
In 2010 the foundation set an aggressive goal of building 50 Youth Development Parks in five years. These are multi-purpose turf fields in areas of need nationwide that provide children a safe place to play. In the summer of 2015 the foundation reached and has since surpassed that goal. In addition, the foundation’s Badges for Baseball program partners law enforcement with kids in the community and positively changes that dynamic. The program is supported by Attorneys General and is active in nearly two dozen states. Over 1 Million kids will be impacted by Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation programs this year.
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.
Cal’s stay in Winchester will be limited to Saturday, April 30th. Tickets to the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast and the Grand Feature Parade will go on sale on Monday, April 4th, when the Official Festival Souvenir Store and Ticket Outlet opens; and, a limited number will be offered online at the Festival’s Official web site. Tickets are expected to sell very quickly, and updates will be posted at the Festival’s Official web site: on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; and, through the Festival’s Official app.