Cal Ripken

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Note: This page links to Cal Ripken, Jr., the Hall of Fame player. For his father who was a major league manager in 1987 and 1988, click here.


Calvin Edwin Ripken Jr.
(Iron Man)

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2007.

BR page


Shortstop Cal Ripken, famous as baseball's Iron Man for setting a new record for consecutive games played, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007 with the third-highest vote total in Hall of Fame history. A two-time MVP and also 1982 Rookie of the Year, he was named to the All-Star team an astounding 19 times and played his entire career with the Baltimore Orioles.

Minor League Career[edit]

Ripken was selected by the Orioles in the second round of the 1978 amateur draft and made an inconspicuous pro debut that summer, hitting .264/~.336/.301 in 63 games with the Bluefield Orioles. He had 33 errors, leading Appalachian League shortstops. He hit .303/~.340/.417 with 5 homers in 105 games with the Miami Orioles the next year. He led the Florida State League with 28 doubles and finished 4th in average. He split the year between shortstop and third base. He struggled a bit at the AA level, hitting just .180/~.219/.361 in 17 games with the Charlotte O's. He returned to Charlotte in 1980 and had a breakout season, hitting .276/~.372/.492 and clubbing 25 homers, tied for fourth in the Southern League. His .933 fielding percentage led the league's third basemen and his 9 sacrifice flies tied Mike Gates for the lead.

Ripken spent most of 1981 with the Rochester Red Wings. He hit .288 with 23 home runs and 75 RBIs in 114 games with the club and played all 33 innings of the longest game in baseball history (he went 2-for-13 while playing third base). In August, he was called up by the Orioles.

Iron Man[edit]

President Reagan talking with a young Cal Ripken Jr. in the Baltimore Orioles dugout. 6/24/86

Ripken played in every Orioles game from May 30, 1982 to September 19, 1998. The first game of the streak was a combined one-hitter by rookie Jim Gott and Roy Lee Jackson of the Toronto Blue Jays. He had already played 22 straight games before sitting out the second game of a doubleheader the day before the streak began; Floyd Rayford had started at third base in his place in that game. On July 1st, he moved to shortstop, replacing Lenn Sakata, and would stay there until the last days of the 1996 season, when he was switched back to third base.

"The Streak" took on mythical proportions as Ripken played game after game in the 1990s. There were some close calls that almost ended the streak:

  • A 1985 sprained ankle would have kept Ripken out but the Orioles had a day off the next day. He played two days later.
  • Both of his children were born on days off so he didn't have to make the decision whether to attend the labor or the ballgame.
  • In 1992, the Orioles recalled Manny Alexander when another ankle injury nearly sidelined him in Milwaukee.
  • In 1993, a brawl on the field almost knocked Ripken out when he twisted his knee in the pile. The next morning he was unable to walk but still managed to play and keep the streak alive.
  • There were also doubts in 1995, when the owners decided to use replacement players to begin the season. If Ripken was on strike the streak would end. The strike was settled just before the season was due to open and Ripken played on.

On September 6, 1995, Cal Ripken passed Lou Gehrig by playing in his 2,131st consecutive game. The game, televised nationally, was held up for 22 minutes after the game became official in the 5th inning. It was the first major moment after the disastrous strike of 1994 and 1995.

Then there was the bizarre photo shoot before the 1996 All-Star Game. As the AL stars were stepping off a makeshift platform, Chicago White Sox pitcher Roberto Hernández slipped and slammed his forearm into Ripken's nose while trying to catch his balance. Although Ripken broke his nose, he had it reset and played into the 7th inning. Of course, he was back in the Orioles' starting lineup two days after that.

Ripken continued his streak after breaking Gehrig's record. On June 14, 1996, he passed Sachio Kinugasa. Kinugasa had played 2,215 consecutive games in Nippon Pro Baseball. Ripken finally voluntarily sat out a game on September 20, 1998. Ryan Minor replaced him at third base. He had played in 2,632 consecutive games.

His move to shortstop in 1982 was controversial, as he was considered by many to be too big to play the position at 6' 4", 225 lb. However, he compensated for his lack of agility by excellent positioning, and there is no evidence that his defensive play cost the Orioles anything. He was of, course, a much better hitter than the average shortstop, especially because of his home run power. Teams began looking for other power-hitting shortstops in his mold after he proved to be successful, but there have not been many who have been able to both field the position and hit for power. The New York Mets did try to move Howard Johnson there for a spell, as he was a similar type of player, but he never really made his home at the position.

Ripken is also the only player to have been selected for the Topps All-Star Rookie Team twice. In 1981, he was selected in spite of hitting just .128 in 23 games, just because there was no other remotely qualified rookie who played short that season. In 1982, not having exhausted his rookie eligibility, he was selected again, this timke after an outstanding year.

In addition to his consecutive game streak, Ripken also holds the record for the most consecutive innings played: from June 5, 1982, until September 14, 1987, when he was replaced in the field in the top of the 8th inning by Ron Washington, with his team down 17-3 to Toronto, he played every inning of every game the Orioles played, for a total of 8,264 consecutive innings. The man whose record he broke is 19th century player George Pinkney, whose streak ran to 5,152 consecutive innings. Until August 4, 2017, he held the record for most times grounded into a double play with 350, but was passed by Albert Pujols.



Cal Ripken is the son of manager Cal Ripken, Sr. and the brother of Billy Ripken, who was at one time his double play partner. His uncle, Bill Ripken, was a minor league outfielder 1947-1949. Ripken married his first wife Kelly in 1987. They had two children together, Rachel (b. 1989) and Ryan (b. July 27, 1993). Kelly and Cal divorced in 2016 after a year-long separation. Ryan Ripken, a left-handed first baseman, began playing in the minor leagues in 2014. Cal married his second wife, Laura, in 2018.

On July 24, 2012, Ripken's mother Vi was abducted at gunpoint from her home in Aberdeen and returned unharmed 24 hours later. The case was not solved and a year later Cal offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who could provide information that leads to an arrest.

In August 2020, he revealed that he had been stricken by prostate cancer earlier that year but had made a full recovery following surgery.


Ripken helped bring professional baseball back to his hometown of Aberdeen, MD, with the Ripken Baseball project which started when the Major League Baseball Players Association gave Ripken a $75,000 gift in honor of the streak. Ripken Baseball bought the Utica Blue Sox, and moved the team to Aberdeen to become the Aberdeen IronBirds. Later, Ripken Baseball bought the Class A Augusta Greenjackets in late 2005]]. Ripken Baseball now also owns the Charlotte Stone Crabs in the Florida State League.

The Ripken Baseball project will also have a 50-acre youth baseball academy on the Ripken Stadium grounds in Aberdeen, which will have five models of Memorial Stadium, Ebbets Field, Fenway Park, and Yankee Stadium, in addition to the model of the Oriole Park at Camden Yards which will hold the Cal Ripken World Series, formerly known as the Babe Ruth World Series.

Ripken is very involved in the promotion of youth baseball, being the main sponsor of Cal Ripken Youth Baseball, an alternative to Little League Baseball. He has also written a number of children's books on baseball themes, along with Baltimore Sun columnist Kevin Cowherd. Aimed at children aged 8-14, the books are Hothead, Super Slugger and Wild Pitch; they follow the members of a youth baseball team and deal with issues such as anger management, bullying and self-confidence.

In 2015, he was named a special adviser for youth programs and outreach by Commissioner Rob Manfred.

In 2024, he was named as one of the minority investors in the group put together by David Rubenstein to purchase majority control of the Orioles from the Angelos family.

Public Diplomacy[edit]

Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. becomes a "special sports envoy" during a ceremony with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, left, and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes, at the State Department in Washington, August 13, 2007.

In 2007, Ripken was a U.S. State Department public diplomacy sports envoy. He was sent to "train Chinese youngsters in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, with the hope of planting a few seeds that will "grow" the game of baseball in China." [1]

Hall of Fame vote[edit]

On January 9, 2007 it was announced that Ripken had received 537 of 545 votes for the Hall of Fame. He was inducted with Tony Gwynn, in July of that year. In 2011 he was elected to the International League Hall of Fame.

Notable Achievements[edit]

1982 1983 1984
Robin Yount Cal Ripken Willie Hernandez
1990 1991 1992
Rickey Henderson Cal Ripken Dennis Eckersley
AL Rookie of the Year
1981 1982 1983
Dave Righetti Cal Ripken Ron Kittle

Records Held[edit]

  • Home runs, shortstop, career, 345
  • Consecutive games, 2632
  • Consecutive innings, 8264 (unofficial)
  • Sacrifice flies, right handed batter, career, 127
  • Seasons leading league in games, 9
  • Seasons playing all of team's games, 15
  • Consecutive seasons playing all of team's games, 15
  • At bats, season, without a triple, 646, 1989
  • Fielding percentage, shortstop, season, .996, 1990
  • Fewest errors, shortstop, season, 3, 1990 (tied)


Further Reading[edit]

  • Lars Anderson: "Cal Ripken Jr: A Tribute To The Iron Man", Sports Illustrated, Time Warner Inc., 2001, pp. 70-74.
  • Thomas Boswell: "The Ripken Team", in Why Time Begins on Opening Day, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1984, pp. 263-273.
  • Eric Chesterton: "How a photo shoot almost ended Ripken's streak: The Iron Man was no match for an errant elbow",, May 1, 2020. [1]
  • John Eisenberg: The Streak: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken Jr., and Baseball's Most Historic Record, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, NY, 2017. ISBN 978-0-5441-0767-0
  • Marty Friedrich: The Iron Men of Baseball, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2006.
  • Chris Haft: "Cal Ripken Jr.'s Top 10 career highlights",, September 6, 2020. [2]
  • Richard Justice: "Intense yet playful, Iron Man unlike any other",, September 6, 2020. [3]
  • Sarah Langs, Andrew Simon and Thomas Harrigan: "8 amazing facts about Ripken's streak: The numbers behind the Iron Man's famous record",, September 6, 2020. [4]
  • Trent McCotter: "Ripken's Record for Consecutive Innings Played", The Baseball Record Journal, SABR, Volume 41, Number 2 (Fall 2012), pp. 7-9.
  • Jim Reineking: "To celebrate 35th anniversary of start of Cal Ripken's streak, here are some fun facts", USA Today Sports, May 30, 2017. [5]
  • Cal Ripken (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, January 1993, pp. 69-70. [6]
  • Cal Ripken and Mike Bryan: The Only Way I Know, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1997. [7]
  • Joe Trezza: "Ripken becomes Iron Man: An oral history",, September 6, 2022. [8]

Related Sites[edit]