- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2001

He could have waited a few more months, making the announcement as he walked off the field at Camden Yards in the Baltimore Orioles' final home game of the season.
He could have consulted with Orioles management first, sought out numerous opinions before coming to his ultimate decision.
But something about that just wouldn't have been right. In the end, Cal Ripken Jr., as always, chose his own destiny.
Baseball's Iron Man announced yesterday he will retire at the end of the season, concluding a 21-year Hall of Fame career to devote more time to his family and his youth baseball endeavors.
"The last couple years I've been noticing that I miss being away from home. I miss my kids' activities," Ripken said at a packed news conference inside the team's B&O; Warehouse offices. "And it seemed like the passion … I was getting into other things, my youth initiatives and my teachings. I found out that the challenges before me had energized me the same way that baseball did when I walked into the ballpark as a rookie."
The Baltimore third baseman, who turns 41 in August, thus embarks on a farewell tour of sorts, one that began last night against the Toronto Blue Jays, one that will include his final home game Sept. 23 against the New York Yankees and one that presumably will end Sept. 30, when the Orioles visit Yankee Stadium for their regular-season finale.
"The idea of a farewell tour has never really set well with me," he said. "I'm just uncomfortable getting that sort of attention for those reasons… . I know from the ramifications of saying this, it will change things for the rest of the year, and I have to try to figure out how to deal with that. I think in an ideal situation, I'd like to just take it all in, to enjoy it and have the freedom to appreciate all the things that have happened in my career."
The decision to retire came over time for Ripken, who missed much of spring training with a broken rib, rushed to get back in time to start the Orioles' season opener at third base and has struggled while seeing his playing time diminished this year. Ripken started at third base last night and batted sixth. He went 0-for-3 and is now batting .207 with four home runs and 25 RBI.
"Going into the season, I didn't know," he said. "I definitely didn't know where things were going to go, and I had to play it out to see where it would end up. And the last couple of weeks, it just kind of dawned on me."
Ripken kept his decision private, discussing the situation only with wife Kelly (who sat at his side yesterday); daughter Rachel, 11; son Ryan, 7; and a select group of friends. On Monday, he informed a reporter of his decision to retire, leaving everyone else including Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos, manager Mike Hargrove and his teammates to find out on their own when word got out early yesterday morning.
"The Orioles are proud that he has been an integral, essential part of our team for more than two decades," Angelos said in a statement. "Cal Ripken has shown he loves the game of baseball, but I speak for many when I say that baseball loves him as well."
Ripken will retire as one of the game's greatest players, sure to be elected into the Hall of Fame when he is first eligible in 2007. He forever will be known for breaking Lou Gehrig's streak of 2,130 consecutive games played (he went on to play 2,632 games before voluntarily ending the streak Sept. 20, 1998) and for becoming one of seven players in major league history to have both 400 home runs and 3,000 hits.
In Ripken-esque fashion, yesterday's announcement happened to fall on what would have been Gehrig's 98th birthday. His likely last game also will take place on the same field Gehrig once roamed.
While back injuries limited him to 169 games the last two seasons combined, Ripken leaves the sport feeling "as healthy now as I've been at anytime in the last three years."
In coming to his eventual decision to retire, he looked back to his early days with the Orioles, when several of his older teammates told him they regretted various aspects of their careers, from not staying in better shape to not knowing when to call it quits.
"I didn't want to be in a position at the end of my career to look back over it and regret not going about it a certain way," Ripken said. "I had an opportunity, and I tried to maximize my playing opportunity and I tried to love every minute that I was on the field. So when I look back, I don't have those regrets.
"I accomplished what my ability and my skill allowed me to, and I'm proud of the experience and the mark that I could leave."

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