Cal Ripken Jr.
RETIRED IRON MAN
This is an article from the April 27, 2009 issue
The former Oriolesinfielder, who played in 2,632 consecutive games, hasn't played in the Orioles'last 1,146 games.
Dan Patrick: Canyou still dunk?
Cal Ripken Jr.:Probably not. I would only attempt it if someone bet me a lot of money.
DP: Did you playbasketball in high school?
CR: Freshman year,then I got sidetracked into soccer.
DP: Were youBeckham before Beckham?
CR: I could bendthe ball. Unintentionally, but I could bend it.
DP: If you hadgone to your dad—a baseball lifer—and said, "I'm going to go play soccer inEurope...."
CR: I'll tell youwhat—my dad thought that soccer was the best game ever invented. He playedsoccer up until he was 50 or so. He really enjoyed the game. Fought all thetime, which I think is why he enjoyed it.
DP: How manyyellow cards did he get?
CR: Oh, man, hejust went straight to red.
DP: There's talkthat Derek Jeter is losing his range at shortstop. They said that about youwhen you moved to third. What advice would you give Jeter?
CR: I relied onthe fact that I knew where the ball was going to be hit, and I positionedmyself accordingly. I had to be perfect with that. I could only go two or threesteps to my left or right. Ozzie Smith had the ability to play every hitterstraight up and still catch everything. I couldn't do that. Now, Derek hasalways relied on his physical side, similar to Ozzie. Maybe he needs to reallystart to focus on positioning.
DP: I was lookingat your IMDB bio. You were a consultant on The Fan, the Wesley Snipes--RobertDe Niro movie. Did you have contact with De Niro?
CR: I did. I hadlunch with him for about three hours in Beverly Hills.
DP: Who's moreintimidating: De Niro or Nolan Ryan on the mound?
DP: What did youask De Niro?
CR: I was justanswering his questions. He was asking about different cities' fans. De Nirowas very interested in Boston fans, how crazed they are, how personal they takeit.
DP: Did fans rootagainst the streak? Did anyone yell, "Break a leg, Cal!"?
CR: No, but somefans took offense to [the streak]. The funny part is, I was compared to LouGehrig. That's unfair, because Lou Gehrig was one of the greatest players toplay. I was pretty good, but I wasn't Lou Gehrig. And certainly a Yankees fanwith a rich history—especially some of the crazy ones—they wanted [the record]to stay with Gehrig. In '95 there were many different threats. I can't imaginewhy you'd get a death threat for going out there and trying to do what youthought your job was.
DP: Would yourather not know about a threat?
CR: Ideally, butone time there was one on the Internet that came [before a game] in Seattle,and all of a sudden there were policemen all around the dugout and I was askednot to take BP.
DP: Did you everconsider sitting?
CR: No. My way ofdealing with it and how I kept perspective was to think, It's crazy, it's morelike a prank call. It wasn't a funny prank, but I treated it that way.
Now Hear This
Listen to thepodcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
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2. Frank Caliendoimagines John Madden's life as a retiree.
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Line of theWeek
Lakers coach PhilJackson, on if he would take LeBron James as his first pick if he were buildinga team from scratch: "No, I'd take [Dwight] Howard. I would go with the bigguy. You have to go for... rebounding, defense and challenging shots."
THE FINE PRINT:Not all good news from the Indians 14-run, 13-hit second inning against theYankees. Third base coach Joel Skinner now needs rotator cuff surgery.
Hear Dan announcethe week's Got It Done Award every Monday.