There were several interesting moments during today’s statue ceremony for Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr.
Among the most memorable was when Cal’s brother, Bill Ripken, spoke and gave a passionate defense of Ripken’s consecutive games streak.
“There were some doubters and haters that along the way blamed Junior for any of the Orioles’ problems,” Bill Ripken said. “He was selfish. For those people, I don’t get you at all.
“The streak was about giving us the best chance to win every day. The streak didn’t define Junior, Junior defined what the streak was about,” he said to big applause.
“Even when Junior was 0-for-15 and Roger Clemens was pitching the next day, wouldn’t it be nice if you could take that day off. I played with a lot of people that would duck certain people if they weren’t feeling good. Junior never did that. You only get a statue because you are great, not because you are selfish.
“He cared about winning on the field. He cared about winning off the field. He cared about how he did it on the field and off the field. In my opinion, he was the ultimate teammate.”
Bill Ripken also got a huge ovation when he told the current Orioles to “take it one step further than we did in ‘89.”
When Cal Ripken spoke, he thanked the Angelos family for what he called “this renewed connection with the rich history of the Orioles and capturing that spirit of the Oriole Way through these wonderful works of art.
“Through these statues, we are reminded what it means to be an Oriole. Local ownership. Local pride in representing Baltimore and the state of Maryland in the best possible way to the country and the world,” Ripken said. “I might add also, that being an Oriole is about playing meaningful games in September.”
The crowd erupted after he finished.
Ripken had a rare moment when he showed emotion.
“Thank you to my wonderful family, Kelly, Rachel and Ryan for allowing me to pursue a dream,” he said, then paused to gather himself.
Ripken spoke eloquently about his father, Cal Ripken, Sr.
“My own love for the Orioles was born through my dad. As a kid, I remember Dad putting on his work clothes - his uniform - and the sheer joy that would come over him,” he said. “Why did that make him so happy? In his address to the minor leaguers on the first day of spring training, he would say, ‘Welcome to the greatest organization in baseball.’ Every day he would walk around saying it was great to be young and an Oriole.”
Ripken made special mention to thank George Bamberger, Jim Frey, Billy Hunter, Joe Altobelli, Jimy Williams, Hank Peters, Tom Giordano, Dick Bowie, Junior Minor, Lance Nichols, Ray Miller and Doc Edwards.
He ended his speech this way:
“We ultimately find out who we are in failure. These life lessons are played out on the baseball field. These are lessons learned from men like Earl (Weaver), Cal Senior, Frank (Robinson), Eddie (Murray), Brooks (Robinson), Jim (Palmer), and so many more who wore the Oriole uniform. This is the Oriole Way. Thank you.”