• Jan

    Cal's Hall Of Fame News Conference

    Very few events get me excited when it comes to covering the Orioles. It’s not that I’m some grizzled veteran in the journalist’s trenches or that I don’t enjoy my access, but to tell you the truth, once you’ve done it a few times it just gets to be something you do, nothing special.


    Well, that was different today. The notice went out a few days before that the Orioles would be holding a special press conference for Cal in anticipation of him being inducted into the hall. Ever since I got the announcement, the excitement was building. After all, I was still a kid when Cal started playing and there’s always something special about meeting or covering players who played when you were a kid.


    This was also the first time I’ve been involved in a flat out media circus. Every local television news guy, sports writer, sports reporter, as well as pretty much every strap hanger in town was in the sixth floor of the Camden Club at the Warehouse. On top of the media, Mike Flanagan, Jim Duquette, John Stockstill, and even Joe Jordan, who was in town for his annual scouts organizational meeting were in attendance.


    Cal came out with his family and quickly made a brief statement before taking questions. In the statement, which he said without any notes, he explained how today was a “glorious day,” and when he got the call “there was a certain sense of euphoria.”


    Overall, Cal was amazing. His ability to answer questions gracefully and eloquently and straight from the heart was truly touching. He did become misty eyed a bit when a question was asked about his father, but that only adds to the fact that Cal is a just a normal guy with enormous talent.


    He also explained how important it was to have a veteran clubhouse when he arrived in Baltimore and talked about an incident where he threw his helmet in the dugout after making an out. Veteran outfielder Ken Singleton took him into the video room and showed him the tape and simply asked him, “How does that look?”


    Cal could only reply, “Not that good,” which Singleton then replied, “Now you can do what we do and place your helmet in the rack.” From that point on Ripken explained, he understood what it meant to act like a professional all the time.


    Mike Flanagan was another veteran on that 1982 team and it didn’t take long for him to see there was something different, something special about the young Ripken. “He had the determination, the focus. He wanted to learn and asked a lot of questions. ”


    Flanagan also has theory on how Cal started and stayed in the streak so long, “He was such a pain in the dugout when he wasn’t playing, asking questions, beating up the trainers, bothering the manger that we begged Weaver to please put him in the game and keep him in there so we can get a break.” After taking his tongue out of check, he added, “He couldn’t get enough knowledge on how to play the game and how to play it right.”


    It didn’t take long for Flanagan to see that Ripken was something special on the field as well. Flanagan explained that when players came up that pitchers would knock them down to see how they reacted. That happened to Cal in 1984 when he faced legend Tom Seaver. Ripken had doubled in his first at bat so Seaver knocked him down in his second at bat. Cal got up, dusted himself off and hit a home run to center field. That’s when a lot of people in the clubhouse thought there was something special about number eight.


    Twenty-three years later, it’s been confirmed, there’s something special about number eight, and he’s heading to the hall of fame to be enshrined next to all the greats, including Frank, Brooks, Palmer, Eddie and Earl.


    Once Cal is inducted, it will end an era of great Orioles. It started with Brooks and ends with Cal. Perhaps another story will be written in Orioles lure one day. Maybe when it’s said and done, a Nick Markakis or Billy Rowell will be held in the same regard, but with the game of baseball changed so much by free agency, it’s doubtful we’ll see another Cal, Brooks, or Palmer.


    There’s only one thing left to say. Thanks Cal. Thank you for making me proud to be an Orioles fan.

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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.