Tuesdays with Travis: A little time with the Ripkens

Mar 05, 2013

Over the past couple of years, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation has grown at such a rapid rate that it has resulted in a lot of new faces in our office.  While all of these new faces wholeheartedly believe in our mission, not everyone has had the chance to hear the family stories about Cal Ripken, Sr. and why he inspired the Ripken family to start this Foundation in the first place.

Yesterday, our staff all had the opportunity to spend a little time with Bill Ripken and listen to him tell us all about his father.  Bill, Cal, Jr., their mother Vi, and their family started the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation in 2001, shortly after Cal, Sr. passed away with the simple idea that they would honor him by carrying on his legacy and the values he instilled in all of them.

Bill shared a number of stories from his childhood that inspired the lessons we still use in our programs today.  Lessons like teamwork, leadership, sportsmanship, and the importance of hard work.  My favorite story was one that taught them about hard work and finishing what you started.

Growing up, the Ripkens lived in a rural area in Maryland and owned an old tractor. This tractor was so old that it required a hand crank to start it.  One day, Cal, Sr. took the boys outside to show them how to start the tractor so they would be able to use it when they needed to.

After a few attempts, Cal, Sr. noticed that it was having difficulty starting, so he started to put a little more torque in the crank than he probably should have.  After a few more attempts, the hand crank slipped out of the tractor and hit him in the forehead, splitting the skin.  He definitely needed stitches.  The boys stood there in shock as their father immediately applied a rag to the wound and instructed them to drive him back to the house.

When they got to the house, the boys assumed their father was just going in to tell their mother he was going to the hospital.  However, after waiting in the car for a little while, they saw him come out of the house with butterfly bandages on his forehead.  When he got back in the car, they started to drive to hospital only to be redirected back to the field with the tractor to finish the job.

Now, this is a pretty extreme example of hard work and dedication, but Bill referenced that after witnessing that, Cal, Jr. never could have told his father that he wasn’t playing in a game because “he didn’t feel well.”  This event had an impact on Cal, Jr. and ultimately contributed to his consecutive games played record.  Stories like these are what inspired the Ripken family to start the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.  They wanted to honor the man who made them who they are today and share his messages with the people around them.

Cal Ripken, Sr. led by example.  How did the way a parent, coach, or teacher lived their life impact you?