From a baseball family, Cal Ripken, Jr. emerged as one of the great players of the
1980s. Baseball's tallest full-time shortstop (6'4") combined power and defense in
a way matched by few of his predecessors. In 1989 he broke Ernie Banks's shortstop
record with his eighth straight 20-homer seasons. The first shortstop to start four
straight All-Star games (1983-87), Ripken started slowly as a rookie third baseman
in 1982. He was moved to short by manager Earl Weaver on July 1 and finished the
campaign as AL Rookie of the Year, hitting .264 with 28 HR and 93 RBI. He also began
a streak of consecutive innings played that did not end until September 14, 1987.
His consecutive-games streak continued to climb among the all-time leaders, and he
reached third behind Everett Scott and Lou Gehrig in 1989.
Ripken defied the sophomore
jinx in 1983 by winning Most Valuable Player honors, hitting .318 with 27 HR and
102 RBI, and leading the AL in hits, doubles, and runs scored. He also made the final
putout in the 1983 World Series as the Orioles defeated the Phillies. Slow afoot,
Ripken hit into a club-record-tying 32 double plays in 1985. Still, great range accounted
for an AL-record 583 assists, among 906 total chances, in 1984 when Ripken led the
league in putouts and double plays (defensive) as well. He also led the league in
1983, 1986, and 1987; putouts in 1985; and double plays in 1983 and 1985.
Disbelievers in his fielding ability, who found it hard to reconcile the images of
great-fielding shortstop and heavy hitter, claimed his fielding totals were the product
of everyday play, but he also led AL shortstops in total chances per game in 1983
and 1984; his strong arm allowed him to play deep. Ripken led all major league shortstops
in home runs, RBI, runs scored, and slugging percentage each year from 1983 to 1986.
He was the American League's top All-Star vote getter for the in 1985 and 1986. In
1987 Cal Jr.'s manager was Cal Ripken and his double play partner was younger brother