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William Oliver Ripken
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 186 lb.
- High School Aberdeen (MD) High School
- Debut July 11, 1987
- Final Game July 13, 1998
- Born December 16, 1964 in Havre de Grace, MD USA
Billy Ripken had a twelve-year career in the major leagues as a good-fielding second baseman. He played with four major league teams, including twice with the Baltimore Orioles and twice with the Texas Rangers.
Ripken was an 11th round draft pick in 1982 by the Baltimore Orioles. He was not a strong hitter in the minors from 1982-1987, with his best numbers posted in Triple A for the Rochester Red Wings in the International League as he hit .286/~.348/.349 in 72 games in 1987.
That same year, 1987, he came up with the Orioles for 58 games, hitting .308. He was the regular second baseman for the Orioles from the time he came up through 1992. His debut on July 11, 1987 was the same day that the Orioles released Rick Burleson, who had been playing second base for the team. Burleson, primarily a shortstop in his career, was playing in his last major league season.
In 1990 Ripken had another good season with the bat, leading the Orioles in hitting, with a .291 batting average.
His father, Cal Ripken, Sr. managed the team in 1987 and part of 1988, while his brother, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken was his double play partner, playing shortstop for the Orioles. During the rest of 1988 through part of 1991, Ripken played for manager Frank Robinson, and after that for Johnny Oates, who he was to play for later in 1997.
He had many injuries during his career, going on the disabled list a dozen times. Starting in 1993, when he signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers, he was no longer an everyday player, getting no more than 203 at-bats in any one season during the last six years of his career.
He was in Texas during 1993 and 1994, along with Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, and Ivan Rodriguez, but there should be no question about Ripken taking any steroids - he hit zero home runs in 1993 and 1994 with the Rangers.
He came back to Baltimore in 1996 when the team was managed by Davey Johnson, and then came back to Texas in 1997 when the team was managed by Johnny Oates, who he had played under when he was in Baltimore the first time.
Currently, he and brother Cal own Ripken Baseball, a company which owns minor league teams and has made it their mission to teach baseball fundamentals to children around the world.
In addition to his father and brother who managed and played in the majors, respectively, his uncle Bill Ripken, was a minor league outfielder in 1947-1949 and his nephew Ryan Ripken played in the minor leagues.
Probably Ripken's most unusual claim to fame is an error version of the baseball card pictured above, in which the phrase "F*ck Face" was clearly written on the end of his bat. The card also had "white box", "black box", and "scribble" versions, in addition to the infamous "F*ck Face" version. The black box is considered the common card, the white-out is more valuable.
- Thomas Boswell: "The Ripken Team", in Why Time Begins on Opening Day, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1984, pp. 263-273.