Over the years, Festival Organizers have reported, at times, that they were thrilled that certain celebrities were finally coming to the Bloom after years of effort on the Festival’s part. To say that this national hero fits in that category would be an understatement. In achievement of a goal at the very top of the Festival’s “Wish List” for a generation, Festival President, Jim Douglas, is pleased and proud to announce that, the Ironman himself, Cal Ripken, Jr., will serve as the Sports Marshal for the 2016 Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®. Cal will, of course, be the Featured Speaker at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast presented by Grange Insurance.
Calvin Edwin “Cal” Ripken, Jr., (born August 24, 1960), nicknamed “The Iron Man,” played shortstop and third baseman for 21 seasons in Major League Baseball for the Baltimore Orioles (1981–2001). One of his position’s most offensively productive players, Ripken compiled 3,184 hits, 431 home runs, and 1,695 runs batted in during his career. He won two Gold Glove Awards for his defense, was named to the American League All-Star Team 19-times, and was twice named American League Most Valuable Player. Ripken is best known for holding the record for consecutive games played, at 2,632, surpassing Lou Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 that had stood for 56 years and that many deemed unbreakable. In 2007, he was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, and currently has the 4th highest voting percentage of all-time (98.53%).
On September 6th, 1995, baseball fans worldwide tuned in to ESPN to watch Ripken surpass Lou Gehrig’s 56-year-old record for consecutive games played (2,130 games). The game, between the Orioles and the California Angels, still ranks as one of the network’s most watched baseball games. When the game became official after the Angels’ half of the fifth inning, the numerical banners that displayed Ripken’s streak on the wall of the B&O Warehouse outside the stadium’s right field wall changed from 2,130 to 2,131. The crowd in the stands, the opposing players and all four umpires gave Ripken a standing ovation lasting more than 22 minutes, one of the longest standing ovations for any athlete, in any sport, ever. To their credit, ESPN did not go to a commercial break during the entire ovation. During the ovation, Ripken did a lap around the entire Camden Yards warning track to shake hands and give high-fives to the fans. A poll of fans by MLB.com ranked Ripken’s 2,131st straight game the “Most Memorable Moment” in MLB history, surpassing such moments as Gehrig’s farewell speech in 1939, and Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier in 1947. Ripken voluntarily ended his 17-year streak at 2,632 games in 1998. In 2001, his final season, Ripken was named the All-Star Game MVP and was honored with the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award. Ripken is considered one of the best shortstops and third basemen in baseball history. At 6’-4” tall and 225 pounds, he pioneered the way for the success of taller, larger shortstops. He is a member of the 3,000-Hit Club, trailing only Derek Jeter and Honus Wagner for most hits by a shortstop. Ripken has been active in charity work throughout his career, and is still considered one of the top, if not the top, ambassador of the game.
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.