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July 5, 2011

Ripken reflects on 2001 All-Star Game

Ten years ago Sunday, Cal Ripken Jr. took the field in Seattle for the 19th and final All-Star Game of his Hall of Fame career. He headed to third base, where fans had voted him the American League starter in the 72nd Midsummer Classic at Safeco Field.

Once there, however, starting shortstop Alex Rodriguez suggested that Ripken swap places with him, allowing the Orioles great to move back to the position where he had played for 14-plus straight seasons and won two Gold Gloves.

Was Ripken touched by Rodriguez’s gesture? Not exactly — at least, not at first.

“At the time, it wasn’t so meaningful because I was mad. I don’t like to be surprised,” Ripken said Tuesday on a conference call. “I was wired, I was on a mike, and I really wanted to tell [Rodriguez], ‘No, get out of here,’ in a different way than I just described it to you.”

Once his surprise had passed and he had shown he could still play shortstop, however, Ripken felt differently.

“It was the coolest gesture that anyone can give you,” he said. “When it was all said and done and I hadn’t embarrassed myself out there, it was the coolest gesture ever.”

Ripken further added to his legacy that day, being named Most Valuable Player after hitting the first pitch he saw from Chan Ho Park in the third inning over the left-field fence for the game's first run.

Ripken’s performance in the game is a finalist in Major League Baseball’s Midsummer Classics bracket tournament, in which fans vote for the greatest moment in All-Star Game history. Stan Musial’s walk-off home run in 1955 is the other finalist.

Fans can vote through Saturday at The winner will be revealed at this season’s All-Star Game, Tuesday in Phoenix.

Posted by Steve Gould at 5:45 PM | | Comments (1)


As an old Cal Ripken fan, I truly enjoyed this acticle. Mr. Gould is very effective writer, not only regaling us with great baseball stories, but alos conveying the atmosphere and feeling of a particular era.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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