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Hail to one of the Birds' Best

Way to go, Cal!

From this day forward, the best shortstop ever will be known as Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. That replaces the title he carried almost from day one of his major league career: Future Hall of Famer.

Baltimore_orioles_1966_2_1 The hubby and I were lucky enough to have lived in Maryland when Cal joined the Orioles.

We saw him play his first major league game in the now gone Memorial Stadium. We saw him move a few steps across the infield to shortstop.

We saw the clutch hits and home runs. We saw him settle into a new nest at Camden Yards. We saw a good number of the Iron Man streak games.

We watched as he proved  Earl Weaver wrong. In moving Cal from third to short in 1982, the otherwise on-the-mark Hall of Fame (I like typing that!) manager told the young ball player, "Look, you're never going to play in an All-Star Game, not with Alan Trammell and Robin Yount and Paul Molitor at your position. Sorry about that.'' Cal made it into 19 Midsummer Classics.

And we saw Cal and the O's become World Series Champions in 1983. Note the winning and loser pitchers in Game 3; it was worth sitting in hostile Veterans Stadium to see those guys face off.

A glorious '83: What a magical year that was. The Birds win it all in the fall, just a few months after Baltimore's other favorite son and infield legend, Brooks Robinson, went into Cooperstown.

The hubby and I and our friend and fellow baseball fanatic Bill joined half of Maryland's residents in an enthusiastic highway parade to upstate New York to witness that event.

Hey, Bill! How about we pick you up on our way up there to salute Cal this July?

Bird Bliss: You can get more official details on Cal's selection at this special Hall of Fame page. Be sure to click on through to Cal's specific page for his stats and video highlights.

AP sports writer David Ginsburg does a nice job of capturing the Cal-Charm City connection, or as he so aptly puts it, "In Baltimore, it was love." That's why I wouldn't at all be surprised to see the fan assembly at Cooperstown for Cal's induction ceremony be even bigger than it was for Brooks.

And you can find out here what Cal's been up to since he retired from MLB.


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