Plugged In: Cal Ripken Jr.
While preparing for his assignment on a TBS broadcast during the MLB postseason last year, Cal Ripken Jr. got to the ballpark early to watch Robinson Cano of the Yankees go through a hitting drill he’d heard about but never seen. On that afternoon, Ripken realized what it was that he missed most about the big leagues. He speaks here about his debut in the broadcast booth last year, about the business he has built since retiring, and about what might come next.
What you know is what you spent your life learning, which for me is baseball at the highest level.”
On what he discovered as a member of the TBS crew: I didn’t [miss it] these 12 years since I’ve been out, I think because I didn’t have a purpose or reason to be at the ballpark. Now you’re part of the broadcast team and you’re playing a role in the event. Now it’s purposeful again. All that stuff you do and you talk about before the game is relevant and matters again. You’re trying to figure stuff out, trying to use your intellect in ways you did as a player. I enjoyed that.
On what roles might appeal to him: Is there a job that would get me going again? That’s how I look at it. There’s no specific job. It’s not that I want to be a manager or general manager. From a distance, I love what Nolan Ryan is doing. He has a great, broad understanding of baseball, and in his position he has a chance to apply that, from the minor league developmental system all the way through. That appeals to me.
What about manager?: I was asking Donnie Mattingly about it. He said, “Managing is a lot like being a player. You can really impact the day-to-day stuff.” That started making me think of it differently than I had, but I have no set plan.
What’s next for Ripken Baseball?: We’ve built a couple of models that have proven to be successful and we’re going to now look at applying those models in other parts of the country. … The first vision was all about using your influence with kids and helping give them an experience, both in tournaments and in passing along and teaching the game. That quickly turned into minor league baseball, because Aberdeen (Md.) was looking for a minor league team. Then I took over the stadium; that wasn’t my vision or my plan. … [Now] after 10 or 12 years, we’re taking stock. We want to do more kids initiatives. We want to grow and produce our kids Myrtle Beach (S.C.) complex or our Aberdeen model in other parts of the country. That’s the focus of what we’re getting into. We don’t see ourselves expanding to operate 20 minor league teams.