Cal addresses the audience. (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore…)
[Following is a transcript of Cal Ripken Jr.'s speech at his sculpture unveiling ceremony Thursday at Camden Yards.]
Thank you, thank you. Just for the record, just because you stood up and clapped, I’m not taking a lap around the ball park again. Those days are over, thank you. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure what to expect from these bronze statue ceremonies. Sure these statues are for pretty good Oriolesbaseball players, but at the same time a familiar kind of Orioles magic started to appear, the magic of the Oriole Way. A deep-rooted connection developed over generations, made up of people who dedicated their lives to baseball in Baltimore. Sure, it’s a game, right? Well, not to this group. Baseball was, and is, about excellence on and off the field; baseball was, and is, about teamwork; baseball was, and is, about community. Baseball, in the end, was and is about family, one big family, the Oriole family.
Speaking of families, I want to thank the Angelos family for their renewed connection with the rich history of the Orioles. Thank you so much, Mr. Angelos, thank you so much, Mrs. Angelos, John and Lou for creating and capturing that spirit of the Oriole way through these wonderful works of art. Thank you very much. I am honored to look out and see myself among the players whose sculptures stand here. Through these statues, we all are reminded what it means to be an Oriole: local ownership, local pride, representing Baltimore and the State of Maryland in the best possible way for the rest of the country and the world. And, I might add, being an Oriole is also about playing meaningful games in September. Congratulations to Buck Showalter and his Oriole team for a great and exciting season, we are all behind you.
Thank you, Brady, for your kind words. Good stuff, especially given you only had 24 hours notice. Thank you to Toby Mendez, the sculptor; you really captured the essence of each person.
And thank you to my wonderful family- Kelly, Rachel and Ryan- for allowing me to pursue a dream. To share my career with them and now be a part of their young journey in life, there is no better gift.
Thank you to my mom, and my brothers and my sister- Ellen, Fred and Billy- who helped shape me into the person I am.
You know, a special thanks goes out to Wild Bill. No, not Wild Bill Hagy, but my brother, Bill. He is always there for me. He was a great double play partner in the field and an equally a great partner in our business. You know him as a high-energy, funny person, but there is no one more committed and sensitive to the needs of others than Bill.
You know, my love for the Orioles was born from my Dad. As a kid, I remember Dad putting on his work clothes, his uniform, and the sheer joy that would come over him as a result. Why did that make him so happy? Well, in his address to the minor leaguers on the first day of spring training, he would say, “Welcome to the greatest organization in baseball. If you make it through our system, you will play in the big leagues. It might not be with the Orioles, but you will be a big leaguer.”
Every day he would walk around saying, “It’s great to be young and an Oriole.”
Cal, Sr. was mine and Billy’s dad, but he also was a father figure to many others. Eddie, Jim, Brady, not you, Earl, sorry about that. You were Dad’s father figure and a father figure to many others as well. But as we now know Earl, Eddie was your favorite.
And the other father figures from this organization that I want us to remember: George Bamberger, [inaudible], Billy Hunter, [inaudible], Jimmy Williams, [inaudible], Bob Giordano, Dick [inaudible], [inaudible], [inaudible], Billy Miller and Doc Edwards, because I will remember them.
These ceremonies at times have been extremely emotional, drawing from the real experiences of success and failure. We celebrate success, and we also at least find out who we are in failure. These are the life lessons that play out on the baseball field. These are the life lessons learned from men like Earl, Cal, Sr., Frank, Eddie, Brooks, Jim and so many more who wore the Oriole uniform. This is the Oriole Way.
[Below are Ripken's responses during a news conference that followed the ceremony.]