Ripken on Showalter: 'A fatherly figure'

Ripken on Showalter: 'A fatherly figure'
April 29, 2013, 2:15 pm
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CATONSVILLE, Md. – It was another busy morning for Cal Ripken. Caught in traffic because of rain, Ripken rushed into Mount De Sales Academy in suburban Baltimore to celebrate the girl schools’ new athletic field.

It was built by his company, and Ripken was on hand for the dedication, which had to be moved indoors to the gym because of the weather. After Baltimore Archbishop William Lori spoke, Ripken admitted to the crowd of about 1,000 that he preferred coaching girls to boys.

His daughter Rachel’s teammates in basketball were much more coachable than boys were. They were fairer, he said, drawing lots of applause.

He got to throw a ceremonial first pitch, one of many that he’s thrown to Abby Zaluki, a sophomore catcher on the school’s varsity team.

After the ceremony, Ripken had a few minutes to talk baseball and the Orioles. Like many Orioles fans, Ripken watched with horror Sunday as the team lost in 10 innings.

Ripken broadcast the Apr. 21 game between the Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers for TBS, and he called last year’s division series between Baltimore and the New York Yankees. He enjoyed the experience, especially talking before the games with Buck Showalter, and he says he’ll call a handful of additional games for the network this season—and they won’t all involve the Orioles.

He was busy watching several games on Sunday on his iPad because he wants to more current on other teams. His close friendship with former teammate Brady Anderson, who’s now a team executive has helped interest him more in the team these days.

“It’s easy to watch the Orioles more and more. The more you get pulled in to the inside, Brady has certainly pulled me in to some of the challenges on the inside, and Buck has continued to do a fantastic job,” Ripken said on Monday morning.

“Me, like all the fans around Baltimore become more intrigued and more interested and the following: ‘What happened to the Orioles game last night? What happened’?

“Even yesterday, they didn’t execute right at the end of the game, but that’s the topic of discussion, so I think it’s great that the Orioles are at the front of the minds of Baltimore fans like they used to be,” Ripken said.

Showalter has enjoyed spending time with Ripken, who he managed against for four years in the 1990s.

“Buck has got a great baseball brain. I’ve known that for many years. I’ve loved to have conversations with him, going all the way to when he managed other teams, and there are certain people that you can have those in-depth discussions into,” Ripken said.

“His mind is always working to try and find a better way, to try to find a solution. When they’re playing National League teams, ‘How do I defense the bunts for pitchers’ and ‘How do I discourage them from bunting and not just give them the out at second base?’

Ripken hasn’t played since 2001, and since then hasn’t enjoyed the close relationship with some of the Orioles managers that he has with Showalter.

“I enjoy every aspect of talking to Buck. It’s his knowledge of the game. It’s his leadership, I think his own growth as a manager. He always knew the X’s and O’s. He always knew the strategic sense, but I saw a real value in his leadership, more from a fatherly figure to the young guys. He really pulled a lot of people in. He loosened some of his strictness that he’s had in the past, and he allowed them to develop, which I think is really cool,” Ripken said.