Cal Ripken's Induction Speech

Monday, July 30, 2007

Thank you, Commissioner Selig and all you do for baseball. And thanks everyone here at the Hall of Fame for this great weekend and honor.

I've really appreciated all the people who have congratulated me in the months since my election to the Hall of Fame. It sure helped me get over a conversation I had recently with a 10-year old boy I was instructing. I was teaching him hitting and he was starting to have success and feeling quite proud of himself. And he asked me, "So, did you play baseball?"

I said, "Yes, I played professionally." And he goes, "Oh, yeah, for what team?" I said, "I played with the Baltimore Orioles for 21 years." And he said, "What position?" And I said, "Mostly shortstop but a little third base at the end." And he began to walk away and he looked back and said, "Should I know you?"

That certainly puts all this in perspective.

As I thought about this day, I couldn't help but say to myself you don't get to a place like this and join a group like the men seated behind me without a lot of people supporting you along the way. If I thanked them all individually, I'd keep you here longer than The Streak. But I do want to talk about some who stand out in my memory.

A big part of me reaching this Hall was played by my teammates and the Oriole organization. From the front office to the training room and the men I played with through the years, I was a better player because I was part of the Oriole way. And that way was epitomized by my good friend Eddie Murray with whom I team up again in this Hall of Fame. He led by example and he inspired me with his play and his friendship. Thank you, Eddie.

And then there are the fans of baseball. And in particular, the people of Baltimore who cheered my successes and stood by me when things weren't going so well. Where would any of us in this game be without the people who love the game and their teams and who even make trips to events like this long after we've put down our gloves and bats? I know some fans have looked at The Streak as a special accomplishment, and while I appreciate that, I always looked at it as just showing up for work every day. As I look out on this audience, I see thousands of people who do the same, teachers, police officers, mothers, fathers, business people and many others. You all may not receive the accolades that I have throughout my career, so I'd like to take the time out to salute all of you for showing up, working hard and making the world a better place. Thank you all.

As I played this game, there were special friends who made it possible for me to be the best I could be on the field with their support off the field. There was Jimmy Williams who taught and guided me to the big leagues, and Richie Bancells who kept me and my body on the field and was a great listener in our off the field moments, and Brady Anderson, simply my best friend, and John "T-Bone" Shelby with whom I started a lifelong friendship from our earliest days of struggling together in the minor leagues.

And most of all, I count the blessings of my family.

Imagine how lucky I am to call the man whose memory I revere to this day by so many important names, teacher, coach, manager and especially dad. He was for me and many others an example of how to play and prepare for the game the right way, the Cal Senior way.

And alongside him or in place of him, there was always my mom who to this day shines as an example of devotion to family, community, humility, integrity and love. Mom, the words are hard to find to let you know how much I love you back.

My sister and brothers, including Ellie and Fred, are all members of the Ripken team, and what a bunch of supportive teammates they have been. Another of them, Bill, you know, the serious one, became my teammate on the field with the Orioles and remains my partner and friend in Ripken baseball today.

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company