ABERDEEN, MD. (AP) - Cal Ripken Jr.’s 74-year-old mother was found with her hands bound in the back seat of her car Wednesday after she said she was kidnapped at gunpoint a day earlier at her home outside Baltimore and driven around blindfolded by her abductor, police and neighbors said.
The gunman forced Ripken into her silver Lincoln Continental between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Tuesday, police said. She was found bound and unharmed but shaken about 6:15 a.m. Wednesday near her home in Aberdeen, about 30 miles northeast of Baltimore.
A next-door neighbor said Vi Ripken told him her kidnapper didn’t seem to know that her son was the Hall of Fame infielder nicknamed “Iron Man” for playing in 2,632 consecutive games during his 21-year career with the Baltimore.
“He lit cigarettes for her, they stopped for food,” Kowalewski said. “He said, `I’m not going to hurt you. I’m going to take you back,’ and that’s what he did.”
“But he didn’t do that because she said `please don’t do that `cause I’m claustrophobic,’” said Kowalewski, a 72-year-old retired autoworker.
Instead, the gunman put some type of mask or blinders on her, and she could see somewhat out the sides, he said.
“He said he just wanted money and her car,” Kowalewski said.
He owns three minor-league baseball teams, including the Single A IronBirds based at the Ripken Baseball complex in Aberdeen, a middle-class area of about 15,000 people. Kowalewski said Ripken told him the gunman asked her about items in the car related to the Ironbirds and did not seem to know about the team.
Mike Hudson, 43, whose mother lives across the street from Ripken, said he was surprised the kidnapper came back to the neighborhood because police were swarming over the area about midnight.