|Image from BaltimoreSun.com.|
I took a few minutes from watching the Yanks run up the score on Daniel Cabrera in the early innings yesterday afternoon to watch Cal Ripken's Hall of Fame induction speech (you can watch it from the Baltimore Sun site by clicking here), and I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a little choked up.
Basically from the time I was born to the time I was almost 18 years old, Cal was a constant with the Orioles. There were some pretty rough years in there and a couple playoff runs. Jim Traber, Larry Sheets and Lenn Sakata gave way to Craig Worthington, Joe Orsulak and Randy Milligan, who then gave way to Jeff Manto, Jeff Huson and Leo Gomez. But Cal was always there. Now there's no one like that.
Melvin Mora and Jay Gibbons are the only players on the Orioles who were with the team when Cal finished the final game of his career standing in the on-deck circle with fans chanting "we want Cal" as Brady Anderson struck out to complete the 98th loss of the 2001 season. And no offense to them, but I don't think too many people are going to look back 10 years from now and say, "Gibbons and Mora ... they were Orioles baseball." At least not with the fondness and reverence that goes to Cal.
So here is my congratulations to Cal on his Hall of Fame induction. For 21 years, he was Orioles baseball.