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2008 Keynote

Cal Ripken

Cal Ripken is baseball's all-time “Iron Man.” He retired from baseball in October 2001 after 21 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. His name appears in the record books repeatedly, most notably as one of only eight players in history to achieve 400 home runs and 3,000 hits. In 1995, Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played (2,130), and he voluntarily ended his streak in 1998 after playing 2,632 consecutive games. Although he finished his career at third base, he is still best known for redefining the position of shortstop. In 2007, Ripken broke another record, by being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with the highest percentage of votes in history.

Ripken's name has become synonymous with strength, character, endurance, and integrity. His philosophy of working hard, playing with passion, and enjoying the game has made a tremendous impact on the sport, and on fans everywhere. In 1999, Babe Ruth League, Inc. changed the name of its largest division (5-12 year-olds) from Bambino to Cal Ripken Baseball. Presently, over 700,000 youths play Cal Ripken Baseball worldwide.

Now Ripken is using the platform that baseball has provided him to help grow the game he loves at the grassroots level. This next phase of his life includes the construction of a one-of-a-kind baseball complex in his hometown of Aberdeen, MD. The Aberdeen Project currently consists of Ripken Stadium, a state-of-the-art 6,000-seat minor league ballpark that is home to the hugely successful Class A Aberdeen IronBirds. Adjacent to the minor league ballpark is the Ripken Youth Baseball Academy that consists of several youth-sized fields that are modeled after famous big league ballpark Camden Yards, which is called Cal Sr.'s Yard, and is owned and operated by the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, Memorial Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Fenway Park.

Other amenities include batting cages and a synthetic training infield. Hundreds of teams and ballplayers from all over the country visit Aberdeen each year to participate in tournaments and camps.

The academy is also the permanent home of the Cal Ripken World Series played each August. It includes 15 teams of 11 and 12 year-olds from all over the world, and crowns the champion of the Cal Ripken Division of Babe Ruth League, Inc.

In April 2004, Cal and Bill Ripken collaborated on a book, Play Baseball the Ripken Way. The book, which was a national bestseller, serves as a comprehensive baseball instructional book for parents, coaches, and kids, and covers all aspects of the game, including how to run an effective practice, and the Ripken philosophy of fun and good sportsmanship. Ripken’s book is on the subject of sports parenting, Parenting Young Athletes the Ripken Way: Ensuring the Best Experience for Your Kids in Any Sport (2006). He is also the author of The Power of Perseverance (2007), a guidebook for success using Ripken’s techniques for working hard and staying focused.

Ripken has always placed a strong focus on giving back to the community. In 2001, he and his family established the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, in memory of the family's patriarch. The Foundation helps teach life lessons through baseball to disadvantaged youth from all over the country, and gives them a life-changing experience. The foundation has refurbished fields throughout Maryland, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, and helped thousands of kids enjoy baseball experiences that they would otherwise never encounter. Additionally, the foundation has teamed up with NikeGo, the non-profit arm of Nike, to donate baseball and softball equipment worth over $1 million to school systems across the country.

Most recently, Ripken has been named as a special envoy for the US State Department, promoting teamwork and cross-cultural communication.

Among his many on-field accolades are: AL Rookie of the Year ('82), two-time AL Most Valuable Player ('83, '91), two-time Gold Glove recipient ('91, '92), two-time All-Star MVP ('91, '01), a world record 2,632 consecutive games, and 19 All-Star Game selections. In 2001, Ripken was honored when fans named his 2,131st consecutive game Major League Baseball's "Most Memorable Moment" in history through a program run by MLB.

Ripken resides in Maryland with his wife, Kelly, and their children, Rachel and Ryan.

 

Cal Ripkin
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