Cal Ripken Jr.

Cal addresses the audience. (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun / September 6, 2012)

[Following is a transcript of Cal Ripken Jr.'s speech at his sculpture unveiling ceremony Thursday at Camden Yards.]

Thank you, thank you. Just for the record, just because you stood up and clapped, I’m not taking a lap around the ball park again. Those days are over, thank you. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure what to expect from these bronze statue ceremonies. Sure these statues are for pretty good Oriolesbaseball players, but at the same time a familiar kind of Orioles magic started to appear, the magic of the Oriole Way. A deep-rooted connection developed over generations, made up of people who dedicated their lives to baseball in Baltimore. Sure, it’s a game, right? Well, not to this group. Baseball was, and is, about excellence on and off the field; baseball was, and is, about teamwork; baseball was, and is, about community. Baseball, in the end, was and is about family, one big family, the Oriole family.

Speaking of families, I want to thank the Angelos family for their renewed connection with the rich history of the Orioles. Thank you so much, Mr. Angelos, thank you so much, Mrs. Angelos, John and Lou for creating and capturing that spirit of the Oriole way through these wonderful works of art. Thank you very much. I am honored to look out and see myself among the players whose sculptures stand here. Through these statues, we all are reminded what it means to be an Oriole: local ownership, local pride, representing Baltimore and the State of Maryland in the best possible way for the rest of the country and the world. And, I might add, being an Oriole is also about playing meaningful games in September. Congratulations to Buck Showalter and his Oriole team for a great and exciting season, we are all behind you.

Thank you, Brady, for your kind words. Good stuff, especially given you only had 24 hours notice. Thank you to Toby Mendez, the sculptor; you really captured the essence of each person.

And thank you to my wonderful family- Kelly, Rachel and Ryan- for allowing me to pursue a dream. To share my career with them and now be a part of their young journey in life, there is no better gift.

Thank you to my mom, and my brothers and my sister- Ellen, Fred and Billy- who helped shape me into the person I am.

You know, a special thanks goes out to Wild Bill. No, not Wild Bill Hagy, but my brother, Bill. He is always there for me. He was a great double play partner in the field and an equally a great partner in our business. You know him as a high-energy, funny person, but there is no one more committed and sensitive to the needs of others than Bill.

You know, my love for the Orioles was born from my Dad. As a kid, I remember Dad putting on his work clothes, his uniform, and the sheer joy that would come over him as a result. Why did that make him so happy? Well, in his address to the minor leaguers on the first day of spring training, he would say, “Welcome to the greatest organization in baseball. If you make it through our system, you will play in the big leagues. It might not be with the Orioles, but you will be a big leaguer.”

Every day he would walk around saying, “It’s great to be young and an Oriole.”

Cal, Sr. was mine and Billy’s dad, but he also was a father figure to many others. Eddie, Jim, Brady, not you, Earl, sorry about that. You were Dad’s father figure and a father figure to many others as well. But as we now know Earl, Eddie was your favorite.

And the other father figures from this organization that I want us to remember: George Bamberger, [inaudible], Billy Hunter, [inaudible], Jimmy Williams, [inaudible], Bob Giordano, Dick [inaudible], [inaudible], [inaudible], Billy Miller and Doc Edwards, because I will remember them.

These ceremonies at times have been extremely emotional, drawing from the real experiences of success and failure. We celebrate success, and we also at least find out who we are in failure. These are the life lessons that play out on the baseball field. These are the life lessons learned from men like Earl, Cal, Sr., Frank, Eddie, Brooks, Jim and so many more who wore the Oriole uniform. This is the Oriole Way.

Thank you.


[Below are Ripken's responses during a news conference that followed the ceremony.]


On giving the speech:

“It was a totally different experience. I missed Frank’s, and then I’ve come to every one since. They are a little bit nerve-racking, a little bit emotional. Many of the ones mention my Dad. Jim mentioned him, Eddie mentioned him. It starts to get you thinking. So today, I thought by preparing a speech and practicing it a hundred times that I could get some of the emotions out of the speech. But sure enough, it’s the moment of truth that hits you, which I guess is a really good thing. And my comments are, right before the game, that it was really cool, it is really cool. And I think it’s really symbolic of the connection to the Oriole history and the Oriole past. It’s very appropriate that, this team right here this year, is playing so well. This is a huge series, so there’s a lot of great excitement out there.”


On the importance of September 6:

“The irony to me is that September 6, 1995, I wanted so desperately for us to be in the race and playing for a pennant, playing for a playoff position. We were a little bit further out at that time and then the focus became a little bit more on the game streak. It was important for us to play well as a team during that time and it was important for me to perform well during that time. It’s not OK to just show up, it’s important to do well. So coming in September 6, it feels really good to walk into that stadium and see the excitement, to see such a big series in September against the Yankees and only one game that separates the two teams. Certainly it adds to it when you play the Yankees, but this is an exciting time for this team.”