Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cal Ripken:: Hall of Famer & Rosemont's Cooperstown Visit

There was a blizzard the day we visited Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Our docents, who were supposed to conduct various educational programs, couldn't make it! After a wonderful introduction, the students scattered to find the various exhibits that had been discussed. It was particularly gratifying that the girls found baseball to be quite interesting; a few even stopped to view the Cal Ripken exhibit (sorry about the flash).

It's a marvelous museum and it was unfortunate that we could not experience their many curriculum-based (Thematic Units) programs. The exhibits are wonderfully displayed and presented.

Although two were inducted into the Class of 2007 and these students would probably know more about Tony Gwynn because of his ties to Southern California, this post centers more on Cal Ripken.

Cal Ripken is one of my sports heroes. His humility, decency, family values, and work ethic have always appealed to me. Because of all the years I watched him play at Oriole's Park at Camden Yards, I cannot switch to the Washington Nationals. This Virginian actually supports a Maryland team!

I've since followed his progress through the development of Cal Ripken Baseball in Aberdeen, Maryland.

Two days ago one of my neighbors told me that his nephew's team had just won the Virginia state championship in Babe Ruth Baseball. I looked up Babe Ruth Baseball and there was Cal Ripken, again!

Over 75,000 people (breaking a record) made the pilgrimage to Cooperstown to see Cal Ripkin and Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

Cal Ripkin's speech was under 16 minutes and here are a few excerpts:

He began his talk by recalling a teaching session with one of those youngster, a 10-year-old.

"I was teaching him hitting," Ripken said. "He was starting to have success and feeling quite proud of himself, and he asked me, 'So, did you play baseball?' "I said, 'Yes I played professionally.' "He said, 'Oh, yeah, for what team?' "I said, 'I played for the Baltimore Orioles for 21 years.' "He said, 'What position?' "I said, 'Mostly shortstop and a little third base at the end.' "He began to walk away and looked back and said, 'Should I know you?' That certainly puts all of this in perspective."

"It took me a while to realize that baseball is one part of my life," Ripken said. "It was never more clear to me than when I had children. I realized that the secret of life is life, and a bigger picture came in focus. Games were and are important, but people and how we have impact on them are most important. We are the ambassadors for the future. Just as a baseball player wants to make his mark on the game and leave it a little better than he found it, we should all try to make this world a better place for the next generation."

"As years passed, it became clear to me that kids see all, not just some of your actions but all," Ripken said. "Whether we like or not, we big leaguers are role models. The only question is, will it be positive or will it be negative? Should we put players up on pedestals and require that they take responsbility? No. But we should encourage them to use their influence positively to help build up and develop the young people who follow the game. Sports can play a big role in teaching values and principles. Just think. Teamwork, leadership, work ethic and trust are all part of the game, and they are also all factors in what we make of our lives."

"As I experience another new beginning with this induction, I can only hope that all of us, whether we have played on the field or been fans in the stands, can reflect on how fortunate we are and can see our lives as new beginnings that allow us to leave this world a bit better than when we came into it."

"I know some fans look at the streak as a special accomplishment, and while I appreciate that I always looked at it as just showing up for work every day. As I look out at this audience I see thousands of people who do the same - teachers, police officers, mothers, fathers, business people and many others. You all may not receive the accolades I have throughout my career, so I'd like to take the time out to salute all of you for showing up, working hard and making the world a better place. Thank you all."

What a man!

Congratulations to both of these fine sportmen!

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