Signed in blue ballpoint pen on the sweet spot
Inscription: Hall of Fame 2007
Calvin Edwin "Cal" Ripken, Jr. (born August 24, 1960), nicknamed "The Iron Man", is an American former baseball shortstop and third baseman who played 21 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Baltimore Orioles (1981–2001). One of his position's most offensively productive players, Ripken compiled 3,184 hits, 431 home runs, and 1,695 runs batted in during his career, and he won two Gold Glove Awards for his defense. He was a 19-time All-Star and was twice named American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP). Ripken is best known for holding the record for consecutive games played, 2,632, surpassing Lou Gehrig's streak of 2,130 that had stood for 56 years and that many deemed unbreakable. In 2007, he was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, and currently has the fourth highest voting percentage of all-time (98.53%).
Born in Maryland, Ripken grew up traveling around the United States as his father, Cal, Sr., was a player and coach in the Orioles' organization. After a fine career at Aberdeen High School, Ripken, Jr. was drafted by the Orioles in the second round of the 1978 MLB Draft. He reached the major leagues in 1981 as a third baseman, but the following year, he was shifted to shortstop, his long-time position for Baltimore. That year, Ripken also won the AL Rookie of the Year Award and began his consecutive games played streak. In 1983, he won a World Series championship and his first AL MVP Award. One of Ripken's best years came in 1991, when he was named an All-Star, won the Home Run Derby, and was recipient of his first All-Star Game MVP Award, his second AL MVP Award, and first Gold Glove Award. He broke the consecutive games played record on September 6, 1995, in his 2,131st consecutive game, which fans voted as the league's "most memorable moment" in an MLB.com poll; Ripken voluntarily ended his 17-year streak at 2,632 games in 1998. He switched back to third base for the final five years of his career. In 2001, his final season, Ripken was named the All-Star Game MVP and was honored with the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award.
Ripken is considered one of the best shortstops and third basemen in baseball history. At 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m), 225 lb (102 kg), he pioneered the way for the success of taller, larger shortstops. He is a member of the 3,000 hit club and is behind Derek Jeter and Honus Wagner for most hits by a shortstop. Ripken is a best-selling author and the President and CEO of Ripken Baseball, Inc., whose goal is to grow the love of baseball from a grassroots level. Since his retirement, he has purchased three minor league baseball teams. He has been active in charity work throughout his career, and is still considered an ambassador of the game