Tuesday, April 3, 3:30 p.m. ET

Ask Cal Ripken Jr.

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Cal Ripken Jr.
Orioles Hall of Fame baseball player
Tuesday, April 3, 2007; 3:30 PM

During his career with the Baltimore Orioles, Cal Ripken Jr. was twice named baseball's Most Valuable Player, was a 19-time All Star, collected more than 3,000 hits and 400 home runs and played in a record 2,632 games in a row.

About to start a 10-city tour to promote two new books and on the verge of induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, Ripken Jr. was online Tuesday, April 3 at 3:30 p.m. to answer your questions and comments about his life and career.

A transcript follows.

Ripken will be signing copies of his new books, "Get in the Game" and "The Longest Season," at the National Press Club in D.C. 2 p.m. and at Tysons Corner, Va., Borders at 7:30 p.m., both on April 13. April 14 he will be signing books at the Barnes & Noble in White Marsh at 2 p.m.

washingtonpost.com: Cal will be joining us in a few minutes.

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Fort Gratiot, Mich.: Other than your father, who was your baseball hero growing up?

Cal Ripken Jr.: My hero was definitely Brooks Robinson. I remember my mom and dad pointing to him and telling me to watch him because he did it right both on and off the field. Later in life and still today, I had the chance to call him a friend and that has been great.

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Herndon, Va.: Mr. R: At your now "advanced" age, are you still playing no-holds-barred basketball?

Cal Ripken Jr.: Absolutely. I play two or three time a week and I am not as resilient as I used to be, but my team just had a great time playing a tournament in Ocean City this past weekend and somehow we won!

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Alexandria, Va.: Given all that you've accomplished in your baseball career, how does your induction into the Hall of Fame rank? What are you most looking forward to on induction weekend?

Cal Ripken Jr.: Well, it certainly ranks right up there. I am a little nervous about induction weekend because I was there for Eddie Murray's induction and it was very emotional. I am sure it will be a very special day for me and my family.

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San Luis Obispo, Calif.: Cal,

A question and a thank you:

In your long and wonderful career, who was the opposing batter you most hated seeing come up to the plate? And now the thanks. My dad raised me right. Our family's summer vacations were planned around the Orioles' away games schedule. We'd travel to Anaheim from Washington state to see the Birds play. Thank you for all the exciting infield plays you made for our entertainment, all your great clutch hits, and the work-ethic model you set for my kids. You're a wonderful role model and a huge credit to America's greatest sport. Best of luck in the future.

Cal Ripken Jr.: Thanks very much. I tried to play as hard as I could for as long as I could and I had a very fulfilling career. Thanks for watching!
As for the batter that I hated to see come to the plate I would have to say Ken Griffey, Jr. He seemed to always come through in the clutch.

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Cockeysville, Md.: Many thanks for all you've given O's fans. Do you still have feelings of pride attached to the O's organization? With the reemergence of some homegrown talent and a formidable young rotation, is that still something that raises your hopes, or do you find that you are more removed from the team? Thank you.

Cal Ripken Jr.: Thanks. I still root for the Orioles all the time. At this time of year it seems that hope springs eternal and I am optimistic about some of the great young talent that we have in our system. Last night Ryan (my son) and I were watching the game at home and when the Orioles started to come back against Santana we were very excited. I don't think I was as excited as Ryan was, but I was into it.

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Detroit: Cal - growing up I enjoyed following your career along with Tony Gwynn's. How close are the two of you in terms of friendship, as fellow ballplayers and now Hall of Fame inductees? Thanks for taking our questions.

Cal Ripken Jr.: I really enjoy hanging out with Tony. Unfortunately, I don't get the chance to do it too often. I love to listen to him talk about hitting. He is a very good guy and I can't think of a better person to enter the Hall of Fame with. I have always taken pride in the fact that I was able to play my entire career with one team and I know that Tony feels the same way.

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Fairfax, Va.: Hi Cal,

Have you written your Hall induction speech yet? Who will introduce you?

Cal Ripken Jr.: No...I have given it some thought but I am open for suggestions. As for an introduction, they don't do that in baseball. The commissioner does the introductions. In football they have people introduce the Hall of Famers and I guess if that were the case in baseball I would think of my brother Bill.

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Always wondered: Cal... is it true that you used to call pitches for Orioles catchers sometimes during the game? I forget where I heard that you used to signal pitches to the catcher during games (sometimes overriding signs from the dugout) but it wouldn't surprise me. You can 'fess up now?

Cal Ripken Jr.: I like to think of it as making a suggestion every once in awhile. I told the story in my newest book about helping Ben McDonald. It should give you some insight. It is a long-winded story, but I couldn't keep coming to the mound for meetings with Ben so I developed a set of signs to flash to Chris Hoiles.

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Gulf Shores, Ala.: Good Afternoon and thank you for taking this question: I know you work with children and I wonder if you have any thoughts on how to get them back to learning the game and having fun instead of what the parents and coaches stress by having teams of all stars that are future MLB players? I have heard of children playing on travel teams and their parents paying up to $50,000 a year for their child to participate. How did we get to this point?

Cal Ripken Jr.: I don't know either. In order to return to fun the focus must be on the development of the child and not winning a trophy for the benefit of the coach. In appealing to the parents and coaches we stress that they should think about returning the game to the kids. Let them experience the joy of success and the freedom to make a mistake.

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Washington, D.C.: How are you feeling? The Nats shortstop went down yesterday, and I am certain you can step in and at least make the season entertaining.

Cal Ripken Jr.: My son says that I can't throw batting practice and I haven't hit in five years. I wouldn't call that entertainment. :)

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Vienna, Va.: I'll get right to the point: why not try to buy the Orioles?

Cal Ripken Jr.: That was right to the point. I didn't know they were for sale. Seriously, I have been pretty consistent when asked about this. Mr. Angelos and I have a very good relationship and he has been great to me in many ways: he has supported my foundation in a significant way and it is because of him we have an Orioles affiliate in Aberdeen.
For the last five years I have been developing new skills and if there were ever an opportunity to help shape the Orioles organization I would certainly consider it.

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Slingerlands, N.Y.: Did you ever feel like just stopping the record and not playing?

Cal Ripken Jr.: The truth is that I never set out to break the record. It was born out of a very simple approach. My dad always taught me that my job was to show up to the ballpark ready to play and if the manager thought that I was one of the nine guys who could help him win that day he would put me in the lineup.
The managers who essentially created "the streak" were guys like Earl Weaver, Joe Altobelli and Frank Robinson and they always enjoyed knowing that they could count on me to be there and that is something I have always be proud of.

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Thanks Cal!: Cal-

What is your book "The Longest Season" about? Let me guess....1988?

Thanks!

Cal Ripken Jr.: Exactly! In 1988 we started the year 0-21 and it was a very difficult time. My dad was fired as manager after just six games and it was challenging to say the least.
As we all know, you learn a lot from going through the tough times in life and I thought some stories from that season would be a great way to share that lesson with kids.

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Springfield, Va.: Cal -- I enjoy listening to your show with your brother Billy on XM radio. How did Billy handle being in your shadow as a major leaguer? On your radio show, I'd say Billy has found a calling.

Cal Ripken Jr.: Thanks. The XM show has been fun. Billy is great and he has a great knowledge of the game and a wonderful way to deliver it. We love the platform to push the kids side of things and we enjoy talking about the big league side too. Thanks for tuning in.

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Washington, D.C.: What's it like hanging out with Prince Charles?

Cal Ripken Jr.: A lot of cool things have happened to me because I was a baseball player. I have attended state dinners and have gone to a couple of events with the Prince of Wales. The hardest part is trying to figure out which fork to use!

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Winchester, Va.: Cal: I cannot think of a better example of perseverance than the 1989 "Why Not" Orioles surprising the baseball world -- and nearly making the playoffs -- just a year removed from that 0-21 start. How much of that great run can be attributed to lessons learned during the 1988 season?

Cal Ripken Jr.: A lot. We were basically the same core group of people. I think we all learned how to be better teammates as a result of losing all of those games. It felt like it was us against the world and we learned to look to and trust each other.

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Washington, D.C.: What's Billy up to now?

Cal Ripken Jr.: Billy is a partner in our business and he is doing great. He co-hosts our radio show on XM and he is very involved with our youth camps and our minor league teams.

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Arlington, Va.: Hello Cal (Mr. Ripken) I just wanted to thank you for all the great memories of you playing ball with Eddie Murray back in Memorial stadium in the '80s. The place was rockin' when you would get on base and then the ED-DIE chants would start. They were some of the best times I ever had growing up.

The question is, have you ever though of managing after your kids grow up? I think that you would make an excellent manager with your knowledge of the game and your work ethic. Thanks again and thank Eddie also.

Cal Ripken Jr.: I will pass along your thanks to Ed. As for managing, my dad always encouraged me to manage along with the manager in every game that I played. There are many parts of the game of baseball that fascinate me and maybe at some point in my life that might happen...I don't know.

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Cal Ripken Jr.: Sorry guys, I have to run. Thanks for spending some time with me. Maybe I will run into you during our book tour or in Cooperstown.

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