Ripken Sr. rejects offer, leaves Orioles after 36 years

October 17, 1992|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

It's still premature to say that Cal Ripken Sr. has retired, but for the first time in 37 years he is no longer associated with the Orioles.

The club confirmed yesterday that the veteran coach and former manager was the only member of Johnny Oates' five-man staff who was not invited back for next year. Long-time bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks, pitching coach Dick Bosman, first-base and base-running coach Davey Lopes and hitting coach Greg Biagini are expected to return in the same capacities.

The new third-base coach is expected to come from outside the organization, although that decision has not yet been made.

For all but one of the past 36 seasons, including the past 17, Ripken has worn the Orioles uniform as a minor-league player and manager and as a major-league coach and manager. In 1975, he served as a scout at the major-league level in preparation for succeeding George Staller on Earl Weaver's coaching staff.

Ripken has been unavailable for comment since rejecting an offer from the Orioles to serve as coordinator for field activities in the minor-league system. "Obviously, we're disappointed [at Ripken's rejection], otherwise we wouldn't have offered him the job," said general manager Roland Hemond. "We thought it would be a good position for him to utilize his abilities.

"Cal Ripken Sr. has played important roles in many successes of the Orioles throughout his distinguished career in the organization," Hemond added yesterday in a prepared statement.

"Players at all levels of development have benefited from his vast knowledge of the game and his teaching skills. We are all grateful for his many important contributions and we wish him well in his future endeavors."

Whether those endeavors will be with another organization remains to be seen. Hemond said Ripken gave him no indication as to whether he would pursue another job. "But if that's what he decides to do, then we wish him nothing but the best," said Hemond.

Ripken's dismissal comes less than two months after the Orioles signed Cal Ripken Jr. to a five-year, $30.5 million contract. Hemond admitted that the obvious speculation is that the Orioles wouldn't have made this move if Cal Jr. were still unsigned.

"If we had not signed Cal Jr. and made this move, the same people would've said that was the reason," said Hemond. "You're going to hear it either way."

Although the manager generally has control of his own staff, Hemond said the decision to let Cal Sr. go was not made solely by Oates. "It was an organizational decision," he said.

Ripken was Oates' first manager in professional baseball and the two have had a long relationship. When he succeeded Frank Robinson as manager in 1991, Oates leaned heavily on Ripken for advice.

But somewhere along the line, the relationship obviously cooled, leading to a change in the coaching staff.

The Orioles have given no indication as to when they would announce a replacement for Ripken, but it is expected that Oates will interview several candidates.

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