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Little League Hall of Excellence Enshrinee Cal Ripken, Jr. Elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Jan. 9, 2007) – Cal Ripken, Jr. came to be known as Major League Baseball’s “ironman” as he pursued and eventually surpassed Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-games-played record. Today the former Little Leaguer from Ashville, N.C., has a new moniker – Hall of Famer - following his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., in his first year of eligibility.
Mr. Ripken, a graduate of the West Ashville Little League, was a pitcher and shortstop and as a 12-year-old in 1973, played in the Little League Baseball Southern Regional Tournament in St. Petersburg, Fla. His team’s tournament run ended two wins shy of the Little League Baseball World Series, played annually in Williamsport, Pa.
Twenty-two years later, in Baltimore’s Orioles Park at Camden Yards, Mr. Ripken eclipsed Mr. Gehrig’s once-untouchable mark when he took the field for his 2,131st consecutive game. Later that year, at the 50th Little League Baseball World Series in Aug. 1996, he was enshrined in the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum’s Hall of Excellence prior to the world championship game.
In 20 years with the Orioles (1981-2001), Mr. Ripken established a new Major League Baseball endurance record by playing in 2,652 consecutive games. In 1982, his first full year in the Majors, he was named the American League Rookie of the Year. One year later, he won the first of two league most valuable player awards, making him the first player to receive rookie of the year, and MVP honors in back-to-back seasons. His only World Series championship came in 1983.
Tony Gwynn is also entering the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot after a 17-year career with the San Diego Padres. Considered the best pure hitter of his era, Mr. Gwynn played in 2,440 games for the Padres, winning eight batting titles (tied for most in National League history), and never batted below .300 in a season. His career totals include a .338 batting average, with 135 home runs, 1,138 RBI. He won five Gold Gloves, and played in two World Series.
Mr. Gwynn visited the Little League Baseball World Series as a member of the ESPN broadcast team in 2004 and 2006.
The Little League Hall of Excellence, located inside the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum, was established to recognize Little League graduates who have become outstanding citizens and role models as adults. When considering a person for enshrinement into the Hall of Excellence, playing ability is never a factor, even though some have advanced to outstanding athletic careers.
Mr. Ripken was named on 537 of 545 ballots cast by Major League Baseball writers, garnering 98.5 percent of the vote. Fellow Little League Hall of Excellence enshrinee Tom Seaver holds the record percentage at 98.84, set when he was selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on 425 of 430 ballots in 1992. Mr. Gwynn garnered 97.6 percent of the vote (532 votes).
Mr. Ripken and Mr. Gwynn may be joined by other members of the 2007 Hall of Fame induction class if any are selected by the Hall of Fame veterans committee on Feb. 27.