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Scalping: Great Players Eventually Thin Out

By Dick Schaap
Special to The Washington Post
September 06, 1995

When I think of Cal Ripken Jr., I don't think of Lou Gehrig. I think of another New York Yankee who, like Gehrig, had to be measured against Babe Ruth. I think of Roger Maris.

I know it is Gehrig's record for consecutive games, not Maris's record for home runs in a season, that Ripken is pursuing with remarkable grace and stamina, but the pursuit of Gehrig has had the same impact on Ripken that the pursuit of Ruth had on Maris.

It has cost him much of his hair.

Most people don't realize this because Cal Ripken wears a baseball cap when he is at work, when he is conducting interviews and, probably, when he is taking a shower. They also don't realize it because thinning hair, or even incipient baldness, very rarely threatens to keep a baseball player out of the lineup. When Matt Williams of the San Francisco Giants was sidelined for a few months this season, it was not because of severe baldness.

Maris lost his hair in clumps in 1961, the year he broke the Babe's record. Ripken, always steady, has lost his hair more gradually, over 13 seasons. He may have the Kornheiser/Wilbon look now, but he was reasonably hirsute in 1982 when he replaced Floyd Rayford in the Baltimore lineup.

"Sugar Bear"Rayford was, as you may recall, a pound or two overweight at the time.

Rayford is a few more pounds overweight today. He is a coach for Batavia in the Class A New York-Penn League.

His hair is graying, but plentiful.

"Would you trade your hair for Cal's waistline?"I asked Rayford the other day.

"Oh, no,"he said,"because I can get my waistline down, but Cal can't get his hair back."

See: There is something Cal Ripken can't do.

Dick Schaap is the host of ESPN's"Sports Reporters"and a commentator for ABC Sports.

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