May 11, 2021

The Baseball 100: No. 44, Cal Ripken Jr. (The Athletic)

Starting in December and ending on Opening Day, Joe Posnanski will count down the 100 greatest baseball players by publishing an essay on a player every day for 100 days. In all, this project will contain roughly as many words as “Moby Dick.” Yes, we know it’s nutty. We hope you enjoy. 

Cal Ripken was a smart ballplayer. You probably knew that, but here’s proof: When he was 10 years old, he was a batboy for a semi-pro baseball team managed by a canny old baseball man named Fred Baldwin. At some point during the season, Baldwin became convinced that a rival team was stealing their signs. To counter, instead of changing signs and making a whole big mess of things, Baldwin just had Ripken give out the signs.

He figured that nobody would be watching the batboy.

Ripken did it easily. Of course, he knew all the signs by heart. It seemed like he was born knowing all the signs. It seemed like he was born knowing the ins and outs of sports…

Read “The Baseball 100: No. 44, Cal Ripken Jr.” at The Athletic