Ripken 'can't help but get excited' about rebuilt O's Lauds moves, Alomar at museum fund-raiser

January 27, 1996|By Brad Snyder | Brad Snyder,SUN STAFF

Cal Ripken, appearing at a fund-raiser for Aberdeen's Ripken Museum last night, expressed excitement about playing with new Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar and "guarded optimism" about the 1996 season.

"As a Baltimore fan, as a player, you can't help but get excited," Ripken said of the moves made by new Orioles general manager Pat Gillick. "All of baseball seems to be talking about the Orioles."

But as the only player left from the 1983 World Series team, Ripken has seen the ups and downs of the rebuilding process. He is not about to get too excited.

"The caliber of talent's there," he said. "It certainly looks as good as it's looked for a long time on paper. I personally try to guard my optimism as much as I can because the first phase is to put a good team together. The second phase is to earn it on the field."

As for playing with Alomar, Ripken is like a scientist who can't wait to work with his new lab partner.

Ripken has played alongside Alomar at several All-Star Games, where they have had the chance to compare notes and talk strategy.

Ripken said their fielding philosophies will mesh nicely.

"It's fascinating to me that our thought processes are pretty similar," he said. "When a National League hitter came up, I would say, 'What about this guy?' "

Now Ripken and Alomar can collaborate on a full-time basis -- something Ripken clearly relishes.

"I am looking forward to it," last night's guest of honor said as he was being pulled back into the Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood. "The rest you'll have to get in spring training."

Ripken arrived at the $100-a-plate, black-tie fund-raiser about 2 1/2 hours after the other 300 guests. But Ripken made up for his tardiness once he got there.

Dressed in a black suit and black-and-red tie, Ripken modeled his 1995 jersey that was sold at auction. He mingled with the audience and stood on chairs like a runway model.

The jersey sold for $4,000. Both a live and silent auction of Ripken memorabilia raised money for the museum.

Ripken also was moved by a video tribute that featured four of his Aberdeen High School teammates. He clowned around with them after the presentation.

"Sometimes we forget when you get the attention from the media where you came from," Ripken said. "It gives you a chance to go back and say, 'Hey, everybody's a person, everybody just does their thing, we're all the same.' "

Ripken re-enacted a scene from his high school days -- the former pitcher threw a strike to his former batterymate.

"We all started out in Little League the same way," Ripken said. "We all had the dream. We all tried to compete."

But only Ripken is having a museum built about him. It is not an idea he is entirely comfortable with, nor does he know how to explain it to his two children.

"It's very flattering, but it's just like everything else that has happened to me," he said. "I'm not so sure I really understand or they'll ever really understand until I'm done playing."

Ripken was joined at the fund-raiser by his parents and siblings -- Cal Sr., Vi, Ellen, Bill and Fred. After all, it was Ripken who demanded that it be called the Ripken Museum and not the Cal Ripken Museum.

The museum, located in the former Aberdeen City Hall, is scheduled to open in late March. Ripken says it is a tribute to his family and to his hometown.

"Aberdeen always will hold a lot of great memories for me. My high school memories were terrific," he said. "I guess it brings attention to our small town."

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