Fans pay respects to Ripken career

BALTIMORE, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore Orioles fans learned Tuesday that they’re losing their hometown boy turned Iron Man, their Cal. Cal Ripken, the third baseman who needs no last name in Baltimore or in baseball, announced that he’s retiring after 21 years with the Orioles. Fans could find little else to talk about Tuesday. “If you look at the whole league, he’s the only one who’s a lifer. He’s the last of the stud breed. But it’s time,” said Bob Zeman of Baldwin, Md. At 41, he is about the same age as Ripken, who will turn 41 on Aug. 24. “I know how I feel when I get out of bed in the morning. Your body changes, especially somebody like him, pumping it out every day.” Dave Hoffman, a father of three from Hanover, Pa., said, “We’re all really going to miss him, but he did pick the right time.” Ripken has played 2,922 games and has 3,107 hits since his major-league debut in 1981. He broke Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games played in 1995, and didn’t stop the streak until he played his 2,632nd in 1998. Now graying and bothered by injuries, he has been slowed recently. His spring training got a late start after he fractured a rib while playing basketball at his Reisterstown, Md., home in February. Pat Zimnawoda said people were expecting Ripken to retire this year.”It’s time for him. He’s been around forever.” Several of the fans arriving for Tuesday night’s game were sentimental as they recalled Ripken’s glory days unfolding along with their own lives.