In February of 2009 RITM had the great honor of being able to interview Cal Ripken, Jr. In the interview Cal recollected about his memories from each of his stops in the minor leagues. In 2010, Cal graciously agreed to take part in a second interview where he recollected about his 1980 trading cards. Once again, Cal has agreed to share his recollections with RITM! The following interview was completed in April of 2011. A very special thank you to John Maroon at Maroon PR for his assistance.
RITM: In the 1981 season you were part of two trading card sets, the 1981 TCMA, a full color set, and the 1981 WTF, a black and white set. Can you share your recollections about the days the pictures for the cards were taken?
Cal Ripken, Jr.: I can't remember when the photos were taken. Generally the photos are taken during spring training "photo day" and everyone from the card companies and magazines show up and take plenty of photos.
RITM: Do you have any copies of your 1981 TCMA or WTF cards?
Cal Ripken, Jr.: I think so. I did a pretty good job of saving all of my cards and they are in storage. I bet I have a few of them here at the house.
RITM: If I can follow up with a question about your 1980 Charlotte O's cards you had a blue bordered card given out at Crockett Park. You also had an orange bordered card with the same image. sponsored by the Charlotte Police Department. The card had crime prevention and baseball tips on the back. Were you aware of the orange bordered police card in 1980? If you did not know of the card in 1980, when did you learn of it?
Cal Ripken, Jr.: I remember something about that but that was a long time ago. In the minors you can get more creative with sponsorships and sales and this seems like a cool thing the Charlotte Police did. We have fun with the flexibility that the minors allows with out clubs.
RITM: You had a pair of stints in winter ball during your time in the minors. How in any way was the game different than your experiences in the US? What aspects of winter ball were most influential on your development?
Cal Ripken, Jr.: I loved Winter Ball. It was a great experience and the passion of the fans was something I will always remember. As a young ballplayer it taught me so much about the game and about myself.
RITM: This season marks the 30th anniversary of the longest game in professional baseball history. What were your thoughts when the Wings took the lead in the 21st only to see the game tied and extended in the bottom of the 21st?
Cal Ripken, Jr.: Ha! I remember thinking this would never end. It was a cold, wet night and we even started a fire in the dugout to keep warm. I remember the game finished months later and it wasn't until then that the stats were posted and my average took a big drop.
RITM: How hard was it to play 32 innings until 4:00 a.m.?
Cal Ripken, Jr.: Really hard but at the same time when you are young you just play and don't give a whole lot of thought about it. In hindsight it may have made sense to suspend it a little sooner to say the least.
RITM: I can imagine that any loss is difficult. However, was there any extra disappointment in how quick the game ended on June 23rd? Was there a sense of relief when the game was over?
Cal Ripken, Jr.: It seemed very strange that after all of that time and then the time passing that we picked up where we left off and the next thing we knew Bobby Ojeda had the win and we had the loss.
RITM: Do you think we will ever see a professional baseball game match or exceed 33 innings?
Cal Ripken, Jr.: Who knows? Baseball is an incredible game and it has taught me to never say never.