from the archives #4

cal ripken

The Baltimore Orioles’ Cal Ripken Jr. signs autographs for the fans at Royals Stadium before the game against the Kansas City Royals on August 14, 1992.

Some athletes are bigger than their sport. Cal Ripken Jr. was that way. He was “The Iron Man” because he played 2,632 straight games or seventeen seasons from May 30, 1982 to September 20, 1998, all with the Baltimore Orioles.

I first photographed Ripken on August 14, 1992 when the Orioles visited Kansas City to play the Royals. I arrived early to the stadium because I wanted to shoot some stock shots of him taking infield practice. After practice, most players head back to the locker room to dress and prep for the game. Instead, Ripken always took the time to sign autographs for the fans. He would start along the wall in left field and slowly work his way back to the dugout near third base. He signed everything: baseballs, trading cards, caps, jerseys, programs and photos.

I remember thinking that a photo of him interacting with the Kansas City fans would be better than a photo of him playing shortstop during the game. I went over and crouched down along the wall, waiting for Ripken to come near me. As he inched his way closer, I laid down on the ground so I could frame him against the sea of outstretched arms from the stands. I intended to clear out of his way when he finally reached me but he simply stepped over me as he signed more autographs. I made a photo of him straddling me before he moved away.

Ripken always appreciated the fans as much as they appreciated him. When he broke Lou Gehrig’s 56-year-old record for consecutive games played (2,130) on September 6, 1995, everyone in attendance, including the opposing California Angels, honored him with a standing ovation. Ripken celebrated by taking a victory lap around the Camden Yards warning track to shake hands with the fans.

-scott weaver

Some players are bigger than their sport. Cal Ripken Jr. was that way. He was called “The Iron Man” because he played 2,632 straight games, seventeen seasons from May 30, 1982 to September 20, 1998, all with the Baltimore Orioles.
I first met Ripken on August 14, 1992 when the Orioles visited Kansas City to play the Royals. I arrived early to the stadium because I wanted to get some stock shots of him taking infield practice. After infield practice, most players head back to the locker room to dress and prep for the game. Ripken always took time to give autographs and acknowledge the fans. He would start along the wall in left field and slowly work his way back to the dugout near third base signing everything people handed to him: baseballs, trading cards, caps, jerseys and programs.
I remember thinking that a photo of him interacting with the Kansas City fans would work better for the story than a standard photo of him playing shortstop during the game. I walked over near third base and crouched down along the wall, waiting for Ripken to come near me. As he inched his way closer to me, I crouched lower until I found myself lying down on the ground, my camera pointed skyward as I tried to frame Ripken against the sky and the sea of outstretched arms from the stands. My intention was to move out of his way when he finally reached me but I never had the opportunity. Ripken simply stepped over me and straddled me as he continued to sign autographs. I snapped a few photos of him before he moved away from me and continued down the line.
Ripken was one of the most humble players ever. He truly appreciated the fans as much as they appreciated him. When he broke Lou Gehrig’s 56-year-old record for consecutive games played (2,130), everyone in attendance, including the opposing California Angels, honored him with a standing ovation. Ripken celebrated by taking a victory lap around the Camden Yards warning track to shake hands with the fans.
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