Today is Cal Ripken Jr.'s 49th birthday. Cal's greatness isn't best understood through stats(even though he was a two time MVP and the 1982 Rookie of the Year.) We all know and love Cal for what he did for baseball and for the fans. Breaking Lou Gehrig's 2,130 consecutive game streak captivated the nation and helped baseball recover after the strike riddled 1994 season.
Here are a couple of quotes from an article written by Richard Hoffer that we came across in the Sports Illustrated Baseball Book. He says it a lot better than we ever could.
"Cal Ripken Jr. though he'll surely go into the Hall of Fame, is not the greatest baseball player ever, or even of his day. But he's dedicated to his craft, respectful of his game and this year, he almost single-handedly restored the once loyal fan's faith in baseball, single-handedly turned attention to pioneer work ethic."
"How long has it been since the fan has had to acknowledge the athlete's give instead of his take? Since he was forced to recoginize his diligence, stability, effort? It feels as if it has been ages, doesn't it, since sports was something othere than a playful preamble to an advertising career? But at least the fan had this year to arrest his growing cynicism. Maybe the fan just needs to know where to look: down the first base line, where in the half glow of stadium lights a gray-haired guy signs autographs into the wee hours..."
Happy Birthday Cal, and thanks.