February 2009: Interview with Cal Ripken, Jr.
In the winter of 2006, Freed-Hardeman University (Henderson, TN) was gracious enough to offer press credentials to ripkenintheminors.com for their annual benefit dinner featuring Cal Ripken, Jr. The event was chronicled in an entry on the PSA Message Board:
Although the media session was short, RITM did have the great pleasure of speaking with Cal about the site and inquired about the possibility of one day being able to ask him a few questions about his minor league days. The timing was not the best considering the fact that Cal had an upcoming appointment with the Hall of Fame. It would not be long afterwards that Cal would be announced as a goodwill ambassador for the United States.
Those who follow Cal understand that he isn’t known for taking days off. With that being said, timing becomes everything. This past January, RITM was introduced to John Maroon, President of Maroon PR, who handles all public interview requests regarding Cal Ripken, Jr. and Ripken Baseball. This introduction was arranged by Glenn Valis of Ripken Baseball. Due to the scheduling restraints John offered the opportunity to correspond with Cal through the e-mail. Taking Cal’s schedule in consideration, a four part question was forwarded to Cal through Maroon PR.
On February 14, Cal’s four part response was forwarded. RITM thanks Cal Ripken, Jr., for his willingness to take a few moments to offer his recollections on his minor league days from 1978-1981. In addition, thank you to Glenn Valis of Ripken Baseball and John Maroon of Maroon PR for their help in making this happen.
RITM: "What was your favorite memory and biggest challenge/obstacle at each of your minor league stops?"
Cal Ripken, Jr.: 1978 - When I went to Bluefield I really struggled. Bob Bonner was a draft pick out of college and he was amazing at shortstop. The way he made plays was so fluid and easy that I became very intimidated and thought that with this guy in the system I will never play. I made a bunch of errors that first year and really questioned my ability to play professionally. It was a tough season but I learned a lot about myself.
1979 - I started in Miami and hit my first professional home run there which felt great. Overall I started to feel more comfortable and sure of myself and I made the Florida State League All-Star team. I finished the season at Charlotte and knew that I would be starting the next season there.
1980 - This was the season that made me believe for the first time that I could play in the big leagues. I had a full season in Charlotte and I really loved that town. I returned there recently for a fundraiser and it was great to be back. I had a wonderful season there and a lot of great memories.
1981 - I only played in Rochester until early August when I was called up but I enjoyed my time at Silver Stadium. Rochester is another city where I felt a great connection with the fans and to this day I get a wonderful reception when I go there from time to time. Don't forget the 33-inning game...that is a story in itself.