SBJ/October 1 - 7, 2001/This Weeks Issue

Orioles, Padres team up for Ripken, Gwynn

The Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres, along with Major League Baseball and its clubs and some sponsors, are teaming to provide sendoffs for future hall of famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn, who are retiring after a combined 41 years with their respective teams.

For the first time, MLB has developed separate retirement logos for each player. In a marketing ploy usually reserved for championship teams, MLB licensees New Era and Majestic will supply and sell locker-room caps and T-shirts bearing the Ripken and Gwynn retirement logos. The bases and lineup cards used in their final games also will carry the retirement logos. More than 25 MLB licensees have hopped on the bandwagon and will be selling products ranging from commemorative plates to bobblehead dolls.

A couple of MLB's national sponsors also are stepping up to the plate for Ripken's final games at Camden Yards: Claritin is sponsoring a patch giveaway Friday, and MBNA is behind the distribution of a commemorative ticket holder, which will include a credit-card application. The Padres are likewise giving away a commemorative ticket holder at Gwynn's last game. Coke, an Orioles and Ripken licensee, is sponsoring an eight-card set of "farewell to Cal" baseball cards at six games. All told, fans at Camden Yards will receive Ripken giveaways at nine of the last 10 Oriole home games.

"It's been a much more coordinated effort than when Cal broke the [consecutive games] record and we had MLB, Cal and Oriole licensees working almost against each other," said Ira Rainess, president of Tufton Sports & Entertainment, Ripken's marketing firm.

Rainess added that talks are continuing with Ripken's major endorsers (Coke, Chevy Trucks, Century 21, MBNA, US Airways, Nike, Rawlings and Oakley) on how and whether they will use Ripken after he retires.

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