Calvin Edwin Ripken, Jr. was born in Havre de Grace, Maryland, on August 24, 1960. Cal’s father, Cal Sr., was a catcher with Baltimore minor league teams. Cal learned a lot about baseball because he was always at the ballpark with his dad and had the chance to interact with the players. When Cal Sr. became a coach for the Baltimore Orioles, Cal practiced with the players and learned on-field strategies from them. Cal Jr. was an honor roll student at Aberdeen High where he played soccer as well as baseball. In his senior year, he helped Aberdeen win the Maryland State Championship.
The Baltimore Orioles drafted Cal after he finished high school. He played on several of their minor league teams. While he was playing for the Rochester Red Wings, Cal played in the longest game in the history of professional baseball. The Red Wings and the Pawtucket Red Sox were tied at 2-2 after 32 innings when the umpires stopped the game at 4:00 A.M. When the game was resumed a couple months later, the Red Sox won 3-2 in the 33rd inning. The game took eight hours and 25 minutes. Wade Boggs played for the Red Sox and Cal Ripken, Jr. played third base for the Red Wings.
In 1981, Cal moved up to the Major Leagues and played shortstop and third base for the Baltimore Orioles. Cal would go on to have one of the most brilliant and storied careers in baseball history and would become the most beloved sports figure in Baltimore history.
Cal is one of only eight baseball players to have at least 400 home runs and 3,000 hits in his career. Cal is most famous for setting the record as the player to play in the most consecutive baseball games – 2,632. His lifetime batting average was .276 with 3,184 hits, 431 home runs and 1,695 RBIs. He was on the All Star team 19 times, won two Gold Glove awards and eight Silver Slugger awards. He was the American League MVP twice and the American League Rookie of the year in 1982. In 1992, he received the Roberto Clemente Award for sportsmanship, community involvement, and contributions to his team. In 1995, Sports Illustrated chose him as Sportsman of the Year and the Associated Press chose him as Athlete of the Year.
Cal often talks about the “Oriole Way” which stresses the importance of fundamentals, professionalism, and hard work. He has always been an outstanding role model because of his integrity. He formed the Cal Ripken, Sr. foundation in honor of his father. It supports youth baseball and helps disadvantaged young people. The foundation donated $1 million to “Reviving Baseball in the Inner City” in 2007. In 2007, Ripken and other athletes (including Mia Hamm, Muhammad Ali, Jeff Gordon, Tony Hawk and others) founded Athletes for Hope, which finds ways for professional athletes and community volunteers to get involved in charitable causes. He has written The Ripken Way: A Manual for Baseball and Life and Parenting Young Athletes the Ripken Way: Ensuring the Best Experience for Your Kids in Any Sport. Along with his charity work and youth baseball camps, Cal writes a sports advice column for youth each week. He has also made baseball training videos.
His number "8" was retired by the Orioles in 2,001, and they unveiled his statue at the picnic grounds at Camden Yards (their home stadium) in 2012.