July 21, 2011
Cal Ripken Jr. played in nearly every major league park across his Hall of Fame career. However, of all the fields he frequented, Ripken only set foot on Chicago's historic Wrigley Field once, for the 1990 All-Star game. Now his son will match that total before he's even been drafted.
According to the Baltimore Sun, USA Today and a handful of other sources, Ryan Ripken, Cal Ripken Jr.'s son, was recently selected to play in the 2011 Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field in August. The selection follows an outstanding season by the younger Ripken, who hit .353 for Gilman (Md.) High in suburban Baltimore. He has also already helped lead Gilman to one state title, an honor which broke a 14-year drought for the prestigious private school (and ended a five-year reign by Calvert Hall (Md.) High at the same time).
"It's a great honor to be named to this team with all of these terrific players," Ryan Ripken told the Sun. "The game is prestigious, and the thought of playing at Wrigley Field and representing Baltimore and my teammates at Gilman is exciting."
While the Under Armour game comes with no guarantees, it does bode well for the younger Ripken's future, as well. USA Today reported that more than 85 percent of the participants in the first three Under Armour All-America games were selected in the MLB draft, while the Sun noted that 18 of the previous 103 players involved in the event were selected in the first round.
Like his father, Ripken has significant power with the bat, though his strength hasn't seemed to have caught up to his prodigious height as of yet. Heading into his senior season at Gilman, the younger Ripken already stands 6-foot-6 (taller than his 6-foot-4 father), and has emerged as a serious basketball prospect as well.
That's fine with his father, despite the natural pressure to focus on baseball that follows the Ripken name. If Ryan Ripken is selected in the 2012 MLB draft and eventually signs with a team, he could be en route to establishing the Ripkens as just the fifth three-generation family in MLB history.
Of course, that could get derailed if Ryan Ripken decides to play college basketball instead of baseball. That decision is still some months away. Until Ryan Ripken chooses what he wants to pursue in the future, his father is adamant he'll continue to compete in both sports and live his own life.
"There are some positives associated with that, but in many ways there's a burden that comes with the last name," Cal Ripken Jr. told the Sun. "I think a lot of people sort of expect a lot out of him. When kids are learning to play the game we make mistakes. We all grow from our failures. Sometimes it doesn't seem like Ryan is afforded some of those failures. It's almost like he feels the pressure, he feels the scrutiny. And he's done a remarkable job of handling it — because he has to.
"It's his life. He doesn't have to do anything in baseball to make me proud. I'm proud of him already. So it's totally his choice. My dad's philosophy was, `It's your life, you have to make choices in your life.' And Ryan's going to be given the full freedom to make the choice his. I know a lot of people find it hard to believe. They think that I would push, push, push, push. But I honestly, deep inside, it doesn't matter to me."