- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Cal Ripken Jr. cant play forever … thats why there are legacies. Yesterday, Ripken officially announced his retirement from the Baltimore Orioles, effective at the end of the season, giving fans a final chance to tip their hats to one of the true workhorses of professional athletics. Ripken, 40, has played all of his 21 seasons in orange and black, and will be enshrined for his record-breaking streak of 2,632 consecutive games played. The Streak eclipsed Lou Gehrigs 2,130 mark by 502 games, an unthinkable accomplishment until Ripken completed the feat.
Ripken has had chances to play for other teams for more money, but has always decided to stay with his hometown club, the one he grew up cheering for in Aberdeen, Md. During his career, he became only the seventh player in baseball history to amass more than 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. He has played in 18 straight All-Stars games, and his .996 fielding percentage as a shortstop he moved to third base in 1997 is a record for his position. His two MVPs and one World Series Championship (1983) seem to get lost in The Streak. But all that is more in the past than in the future.
His desire to spend time with family and refocus his baseball expertise on youth and professional management will bracket his playing days. Ripkens construction of a 6,500-seat minor-league-style park in Aberdeen will host more youth teams from the Cal Ripken League of Babe Ruth Baseball. Providing a venue for kids to learn about life and baseball has been a new focus for Ripken in the last few years, and his retirement will grant him more time to spend encouraging the community. Ripken will likely exercise his expertise and try his hand at running a professional franchise. And when he does, he will do things his own way.
The fears Ripken would tarnish his legacy by playing too long have been quelled, and the fears he would cheat baseball fans by deciding to quit during mid-season (like Mike Schmidt) have also been soothed. He will give fans the same effort with the same grace he did after the 1994 strike season when he would stay late and sign autographs. Ripken is doing what is best for himself, Baltimore and baseball fans. He is giving everyone a chance to say goodbye.
The Orioles last game of this season will be played in Yankee Stadium on Sept. 30, the field where Gehrig gave his farewell speech. It will be goodbye to Cal on the baseball field, but not to his legacy.

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