Ripken, Gwynn inducted into Hall of Fame
Published 4:10 pm Monday, July 30, 2007
By By JOHN KEKIS, AP Sports Writer
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn took their place in baseball’s shrine Sunday, saluted as much for their Hall of Fame careers as their character off the field.
Commissioner Bud Selig and a record crowd came to cheer them and all that was good about the game.
A continent away, a different scene played out. Barry Bonds failed to tie the home run record, a chase tainted by his surly nature and a steroids investigation.
Ripken and Gwynn sensed that poignant counterpoint on their induction day.
Gwynn offered the same sentiment.
Boosted by busloads from Maryland, an estimated 75,000 fans turned the vast field facing the podium into a sea of black, orange and brown.
Ripken spent his entire career in Baltimore, making his mark by playing 2,632 consecutive games and breaking Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130. Among the 53 Hall of Famers on stage behind Ripken were former Orioles Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray and Jim Palmer.
That only made Ripken, whose dad also coached and managed the Orioles, struggle through much of his speech.
Ripken then broke down, pausing as he began to thank wife Kelly.
As Ripken spoke, he pulled a white rose from his suit coat. Son Ryan did the same and handed it to his mom.
Gwynn’s family also got a prime role. His daughter, Anisha, sang the national anthems for both Canada and the United States to start the festivities.
Steady on the field, Gwynn was a bundle of nerves for his speech. It didn’t take long for him to focus on the moment that changed his life — June 6, 1981, the day he met his wife, Alicia.
She also played an integral part in his on-field success.
Gwynn finished with 3,141 hits and won eight National League batting titles in a 20-year career with the San Diego Padres.
Even though he had 3,184 hits — including 431 home runs — was a two-time American League MVP and a 19-time All-Star, Ripken will always be known for his streak.
Rick Hummel, longtime baseball writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, received the J.G. Spink Award for meritorious writing, and Royals announcer Denny Matthews received the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence.