By In 100 Greatest, Baseball

No. 35: Cal Ripken

Before Cal Ripken came along, there had never been a 6-foot-4 shortstop who played with any regularity in the Major Leagues. There had been a few tall shortstops through the years — Bill Almon, Ron Hansen, Tony Kubek, Roy Smalley Jr. (who was the father of the Roy Smalley who played in the 1970s) — but none of them was 6-foot-4. More to the point, none of them was built like Ripken. They were tall (as tall as 6-foot-3) but relatively slender, seemingly light on their feet. Ripken, meanwhile, looked more like a 1970s college fullback.

This might be hard to believe, but before Ripken came along, there had only been 17 everyday players in major league history (minimum 3,000 plate appearances) who were 6-foot-4 and weighed at least 200 pounds. None were shortstops. None were second basemen. None were third basemen. You look at the list of 17, and about half were big hulking power hitters without a position (Frank Howard, Dave Kingman, Ken Singleton, Dick Stuart, etc.). There are a few great athletes in there who played outfield (Dave Winfield, Dave Parker, Donn Clendenon, Johnny Lindell) and a few people who could hold their own at first base or behind the plate.

In other words, Cal Ripken was a whole new kind of baseball player. He was way too big to play short. He was a sluggish runner; in his career, Ripken got caught stealing more often than he was successful. and he grounded into more double plays (350) than any player in baseball history.

It took the mad genius of Earl Weaver to see a future for this guy at shortstop. Ripken had always been a third baseman. In 1981 and early 1982, when Ripken came to the big leagues, he was a third baseman. But Weaver was aching to move the kid to shortstop. No one in the organization agreed with him — not one person. But 1982 was Weaver’s last year as manager, and he didn’t give a $*$%* what anyone thought even before he became a lame duck. On July 2, he put Ripken at shortstop to stay.  For once in his $*%%&$# life, Earl Weaver wanted to have a $&#$* shortstop who could $&%&$ hit.

“I liked the way he’s handled himself,” Weaver said after a couple of weeks. “It’s way too early to compare them but the way he moves around reminds me or Marty Marion.”

It’s always fun when someone says that it’s way too early to do something … and then does that very thing.

The early reports about Ripken’s defense at shortstop included such bland and unfulfilling words as “solid” and “capable” and “adequate.” Even Ripken himself would say, “I think I’m a better third baseman.” This, I think, is how it goes for pioneers. People can only see so clearly past their own expectations and preconceived ideas. Ripken, from the start, was perceived to be a good hitter who might hold his own at shortstop. And so that’s how people saw him. At best in those early days, he was labeled “surprisingly good.”

It was easy to miss that Cal Ripken would become one of the greatest defensive shortstops in the history of baseball.

How good was he defensively? We can throw out a few numbers as a starting point. Ripken led American League shortstops in assists seven times and in putouts six times. To contrast, Ozzie Smith led the league in assists eight times and in putouts twice. There’s defensive WAR to ponder — Ripken’s defensive WAR at shortstop is third behind the Wizard and Mark Belanger, the two players most consider the greatest defensive shortstops since at least World War II (with Andrelton Simmons closing fast).

But Ripken didn’t get credit for being that good. He only won two Gold Gloves, and they were later in his fabulous career when coaches and managers like to give out Gold Gloves like lifetime achievement Oscars (though Ripken was still a great defensive shortstop when he won those awards). Ripken didn’t get that credit because he had, more or less, invented a new way of playing great shortstop. He played deep to give himself slightly more time, and because he was utterly in sync with the pitcher, he was a genius at positioning himself.

People missed something else about Ripken: He had the greatest shortstop arm of his time. They missed it because Ripken didn’t rear back and fire the ball across the infield the way, say, Shawon Dunston did. Dunston had a bazooka of an arm, no question about it, and everyone talked about his arm while no one talked about Ripken’s. But I would bet you that Ripken got the ball to first base much quicker than Dunston did because Dunston would wind up and throw a 95-mph fastball across the infield. Ripken would catch and throw in one motion, the Aaron Rodgers, Steph Curry quick release, and the ball still had some heat on it.

The running back Eric Dickerson never looked as fast as he really was because of the way he ran. There’s a famous story where Rams coach John Robinson was getting on Dickerson’s case for not running hard, and Dickerson said, “Coach, I’m running as fast as I can go. Don’t believe me, send someone out there to try and catch me.” Robinson did. The guy couldn’t catch Dickerson.

And that, I think, also describes Ripken’s defense. He never LOOKED great. He just was great.

Between 1982-1991, Ripken posted a 127 OPS+ and averaged 34 doubles, 26 homers, 97 runs and 94 RBIs per season. These were crazy numbers for a shortstop. The only two previous shortstops who had posted those numbers for even ONE season were Ernie Banks and Vern Stephens back in the 1950s. Ripken posted them for 10. He was a Hall of Famer by age 31.

After that, well, he was barely an average hitter the last 10 years of his career, but he lasted long enough to get 3,000 hits and 400 homers and so on. He got the consecutive games streak record, of course. He also survived long enough to take that grounded-into-double-plays record from Henry Aaron.

* * *

A few words about Cal Ripken’s final year. That was 2001. People have strong feelings about how athletes go out. These days, the talk is about Kob Bryant. You hear people all the time saying it is sad to see one of the greatest players in the history of the league chuck up and clank bad shots for a dreadful team.

And I guess my question: Sad for who? Yes, of course, we never like seeing our athletes grow old. But why is Kobe Bryant out there? Is it for the money? Maybe it is, and it’s a lot of money.

But maybe it is something else driving him. Maybe he just loves playing basketball so much that he wants to play until he cannot play any longer. Is that sad? He knows how far his game has fallen. He sees the faces of people in the crowd. He hears a new kind of cheers, a kind filled with pity and remorse and nostalgia. For a guy who would walk into opponents arenas like an angry gunslinger ready to shoot the first guy who mouthed off, those cheers must sound wildly off key.

But still he plays, he endeavors, he strives, and maybe that’s not sad. Maybe it’s something else.

That something else was the feeling I had watching Ripken play his last year. He couldn’t play anymore. He posted a 70 OPS+. He had long faded away from shortstop. By WAR, he was a sub-replacement level player. And his Orioles were abysmal.

But every night, the game would end, and Ripken would go to the crowd, and he would sign autographs for as long as he could stand out there. I watched him in Kansas City. I watched him in New York. I watched him in Baltimore too. He would sign autographs and talk to fans and, though he didn’t say the words “Thank you,” well, he did not have to say them. His presence was his thank you. And the fans waiting, they did yell “thank you” right back.

And I thought: This isn’t sad at all. It can be sad when their career gets cut short. It can be sad when they leave too soon and then regret it so much they try to come back. It can be sad when they end up a bit player far from the city where they played their best.

But as Cal Ripken ran up the dugout stairs to play baseball, as he played baseball as well as he could for a 40-year-old man who would play 3,000 major league baseball games, as he signed all those autographs one after another after another, I felt the opposite of sad. I felt happy that Cal Ripken got to spend his career sharing his talent, giving us memories, living the life he wanted. And he played ball until the sun set.



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69 Responses to No. 35: Cal Ripken

  1. Tim says:

    AGH! No freaking way!!! I am so stoked this is back! Muchos Gracias! 😀 😀

  2. AndyL says:

    I think Yaz was #36 so that would make Ripken #35.

  3. murr2825 says:

    I gained a newer, deeper appreciation of Ripken with this essay. Glad the countdown has resumed.

  4. Blake Hurst says:

    Two best writers working today are Joe Posnanski and Andrew Ferguson.

  5. Jon Kopplin says:


  6. Mom and I watched the nationally televised game where he broke Lou Gehrig’s record. We were so excited. Her mother, my grandmother had ALS – commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Ripken was lavish in his praise of Gehrig. Somehow we felt connected to this modest, self effacing, humble, model of all that’s good in baseball (and America).

    • john4psu says:

      I was fortunate enough to be there. It was a night I’ll never forget. You could feel the love the fans felt for Cal.

  7. Roberto says:

    After 11 long months, I thought we had seen the last of this fantastic series. Thank you!

  8. john4psu says:

    I felt the same way about Brett Favre and playing on and on and on. Do it for as long as you can and you’ll have no regrets. To do something you love no one should begrudge anyone that.

    However, Favre was still playing at a high level and yet I don’t want to see Peyton Manning play when his body no longer will let him much like Willie Mays’ final days as a Met.

  9. So glad to have the 100 list back

  10. Dennis says:

    Good stuff!! Really look forward to your articles. I’m a big big Strat o matic fan and have a really enjoyed those articles

  11. Chad says:

    God bless you, Joe.

  12. I was at his final game against the Red Sox. Tale of two legends: Cal nobly addressing the crowd, Manny Ramirez sulking on the bench, refusing to play. That Sox game shouldn’t have been his last game. (Well it would have been his last regardless, I suppose.) It was a rescheduled game due to the events of 9/11 several weeks before. I still have my Cal bobble head, commemorative ticket stub and plastic lanyard. The Orioles sent him off right. (Fun side note: Tim Raines was on that Orioles team, and so was his son. Kind of cool.)

  13. invitro says:

    It’s clear to me that Kobe is still playing simply because he believes he’s still a great player, or he is at least half the time. I mean, many NBA players said before the season that he’s still one of the best players in the league. If they think that, Kobe, never short on ego, would absolutely believe it.

    I’m greatly enjoying watching Kobe and the Lakers play this season for different reasons than their fans.

  14. NevadaMark says:

    Hallelujah!!!! The List is back!

  15. chlsmith says:

    It’s late winter. There are no major sporting events going on and TV coverage is stuck with ESPYs and feel-good stories about boxers who beat the odds.

    It’s great to see someone bringing back my favorite series ever. Maybe we’ll get to #25 by Opening Day.

  16. Kuz says:

    34 ’til Babe Ruth!

  17. Chad says:

    As a lifelong Tiger fan, I am left to wonder if Alan Trammell would be in the Hall of Fame if not for Earl Weaver. I feel the narrative would be much different.

  18. dburba says:

    I would hold Ripken in much higher esteem were it not for that silly streak. He was unquestionably one of the greatest shortstops, and yet he’s remembered most for an utterly pointless record. For me his pursuit of that wholly individual record colors his great achievements.

    • DJ McCann says:

      Well, the primary reason you feel that way is that you consider it a wholly individual record instead of someone understanding his importance to the team and putting the needs of the team on the field first.

      It’s difficult to “pursue” something that generally involves the very least. most basic part of your job.

      • dburba says:

        That assumes that being on the field automatically makes the team better, which of course isn’t true. At some point he took the decision about whether he would play or not out of his manager’s hands–who was going to sit him and end The Streak?–and continued to put himself out there regardless of whether it helped the team or not.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      I guess you should say the same about Lou Gehrig then. One day, Gehrig was not feeling good. To preserve the streak, the Yankees put him in the lineup leading off (the game was on the road) and he came out after his at bat.

      I sort of agree that the streak was a pointless record (would it have mattered if he missed one game?), but Ripken never did things like that to preserve the streak. I think there were times when his play suffered and he could have used a day or two off, but I think it’s a bit unfair to hold his “pursuit” of the streak against him. And it’s hard to criticize a guy for wanting to play every day.

      • Patrick Bohn says:

        Well, except Ripken appeared to wear down later in the year when he was at the end of his career.

        1st half: .284/.337/.443
        2nd half: .241/.312/.402

        1st half: .287/.357/.491
        2nd half: .268/.322/.438

        1st half: .296/.344/.449
        2nd half: .237/.315/.343

        He did reverse this in 1998, but I think it’s fair to wonder if playing every day left him less effective in the 2nd half than he would have been had he taken a few days off to rest, and that they wouldn’t struggle as much to find someone to replicate those 2nd half numbers.

        Before you ask, the same thing appeared to happen to Gehrig in ’36/’37/’38. The difference is, however, that in 1936, for example, the fade would still produce a .320/.462/.684 slash line. So you’d see a bigger drop off if you benched Gehrig

        • Marc Schneider says:

          I don’t disagree but he always held that a day or two wouldn’t have made much difference. My point was Ripken never did anything cheesy to keep the streak alive as Gehrig apparently did. And we don’t know-at least I don’t-if Ripken refused to sit out or if he simply never asked for a day off. If the manager thought Ripken needed a day off, it would have been his job to sit him down-although I realize that’s probably not very realistic.

          • Patrick Bohn says:

            Well, just because Ripken says it wouldn’t have made a difference doesn’t mean he was right—and would we expect him to say otherwise? And we all know that the manager who told Cal Ripken to sit against his will wouldn’t keep his job for very long.

            I don’t really think we should criticize either Gehrig or Ripken for anything, but let’s not pretend Ripken and Gehrig were both running the show

          • Mike says:

            I think you’re missing the point. I don’t know Ripken and I’m not a Baltimore fan, but I knew all about the Streak. I watched the game that broke the record (on TV), and I gotta tell you, it was pretty dusty that night. I think Ripken knew that the Streak wasn’t even really about him at the end. It was really just a reason to celebrate baseball. And yeah, any manager that sat him for a day before he broke the record was going to be selling Lady Kenmore’s the next season, not because Ripken would have wanted it, but because MLB wanted to put that moment on TV. I’ve never met Ripken, but personally, I prefer to believe that he wanted to ask for that day off, that he knew he should, for the good of the team. But he knew he couldn’t, for the good of baseball.

        • Randy says:

          Look at Ripken’s monthly OPS. He was substantially worse from August thru October than he was before August. He was hurting the team not taking rest days.

  19. Caroline says:

    Love! Love! Love this story and Cal Ripken Jr. He was (is) one of my all-time favorite players. Thank you for this wonderful read!

  20. “Between 1982-1991, Ripken posted a 127 OPS+ and averaged 34 doubles, 26 homers, 97 runs and 94 RBIs per season.” Hard to believe those power numbers “only” resulted in a 127 OPS+

    • Chad says:

      Well, those power numbers yielded “only” a .469 slugging percentage. During the same time frame, Rickey Henderson had a .452, and Wade Boggs had a .471 as just 2 examples. Combine that with a .350 OBP, and you get a good, but not outstanding OPS+. Unless, of course, you consider that’s a 127 for a shortstop …

  21. DJ McCann says:

    People often talk about the idea of good defense vs. “flashy” defense, especially in the more analytical world where the eye test is coming under more and more scrutiny. There is plenty of video out there of Cal making diving stops and turning quick double plays. As you say, though, his true defensive genius was in understanding how the pitcher was going to pitch the batter–and in the second half of his career often being intimately involved in that planning–and positioning himself accordingly. He had the range to play deep, and the positioning to make accurate guesses, and between the two made up for many of his specific athletic deficiencies (which isn’t even really the right word, as he was known as an incredible athlete).

  22. Chris Jones says:

    I have been waiting forever for this to come back……and with one of my favorite players of all time. Thanks Joe for getting this going again. Eagerly anticipating the next 34 entries.

    • wjones58 says:

      Well, unless I get blindsided by someone, I figure we have 31 locks, maybe 32. Ruth, Wagner, Mays, Cobb, Teddy, Aaron, Musial, Gehrig, Bonds, Mantle, DiMaggio, Speaker. That’s 12. Walter, Christy, Cy, Grove, Alexander, Maddux, Clemens. Up to 19 now. Satchel, Josh, Oscar, Martin. That’s 23. Foxx, Schmidt, Brett, F Robby, Rickey, Hornsby, Ott, Morgan.. So 31. Bench would make 32, but is he in? Unit a lock? So those two would fight for the last 3 spots with Seaver, Stargell, Winfield, Marichal, Hubbell, Ford, Piazza. Am I missing anyone obvious? Kershaw is too young, and so is Trout, right? And I am definitely saying that Al Simmons, Jim Palmer, Cochrane, Eck, Cronin, Hartnett, Fisk, Molitor, Gary Carter are no chance. At this point, probably Stargell, Winfield, Ford gone too.

      • Bpdelia says:

        There is no way that Alex Rodriguez isn’t on the list. He’s one of the twenty greatest players of all time and easily the greatest shortstop of the modern era.

        Hate him or no his baseball iq incredible consistency and absurd peak put him ahead of many of that list imo. I have him around 15-20.

        • wjones58 says:

          Damn! I knew I’d leave out someone painfully obvious!

        • john4psu says:

          His legacy is tainted. How much did he juice? How much did that inflate his stats? He did NOT have enough confidence in his abilities to play clean.

          • Bpdelia says:

            True. He’s clearly dealt with serious insecurities. I prefer to think of him as a human who made mistakes based upon his history. He wanted to be loved.

            Either way. If you want pull %20 of his career and he’s still an inner circle all time great.

            Pull %50 and he’s one of the better players of his era.

          • Marc Schneider says:

            Even if true, so what? He still put up those numbers. I can’t see discrediting everything he did because of speculation about how much steroids helped him. If a team won the World Series with every player juicing, they are still World Series champions.

          • john4psu says:

            Olympic gold medals have been taken away, Ben Johnson for example. If an entire team juiced and won the WS, the commish should remove their title and remove all record of them. Quit rewarding cheaters or it will never stop.

          • Dan says:

            Dude had himself painted as a centaur.

            Confidence, egomaniacality.. uh, egomaniacness… whatever. Tomayto, tomahto.

      • MikeN says:

        This reminds me of the Boston Globe’s NE Top 100 where as they were in the top 50 we tried to anticipate the rest. I argued that Dwight Evans was a lock. They kept counting down, and I was still sure. Only when they got to 25 or so did I realize they must have left him off the list.

      • Geoff says:

        Dihigo, Stargell, Winfield, Marichal, Hubbell, Ford, and Piazza are unlikely to make this list, as are Kershaw and Trout. I’m 100% certain that Randy Johnson and Johnny Bench are on this list. Berra, too. So that’s:

        R. Johnson
        W. Johnson
        Ott (#34)

        Excluding Ott, we now have 34 guys to fill 33 spots, which makes sense since Joe has already revealed that there will be one tie. I’m guessing Berra/Bench or Paige/Gibson. We’ll see…

        • Kevin says:

          I’m pretty sure we’ve already seen Berra and Gibson. Not sure who else would fill those spots.

          • Kevin says:

            Check that – you meant Josh Gibson, so that’s 33 for 33 spots.

          • Geoff says:

            Good catch…thanks. I maintain that the biggest snub on this list by far is Phil Neikro, who has a very strong case for being in the top 50-60.

            It’s also interesting to think about guys that didn’t make this list but would if Joe started over today. I’m fairly confident that Adrian Beltre is now a top-70 player, but Beltran and Kershaw (who has now basically had Sandy Koufax’s career) both have solid cases for inclusion.

  23. Great to have the list back, Joe. That stat about players 6’4 and 200 pounds made my jaw drop. I wonder how many pitchers of that size there were? I would think quite a few, but then again I could be wildly overestimating the mark.

    When Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak, it was an awkward record to celebrate, as all he had to do was step out on the field to break it. Everybody wanted a chance to cheer for something beyond Ripken’s mere showing up. Lo and behold, Cal Ripken homered in that game, sending the crowd and everybody watching into absolute delirium.

    There are those who read this blog who scoff at the idea of an athlete rising to the occasion. The whole notion of a clutch hit has been mathematically proven to be nonexistent. If Ripken homered in this particular game, then why didn’t he homer in every game, if he could homer whenever he wanted to? Why didn’t he homer every time up?

    Watching the great ones shine when the lights are brightest is one of the joys of watching sports. Those who had the privilege of watching that game could thrill to a player feeding off the adulation of the crowd to create a moment of pure magic. That such moments are so rare are what make them so real.

  24. Cuban X Senators says:

    What is the expression about what makes baseball magical — that every time you walk into the park, you never know what you’ll see.

    In Cal’s case I didn’t know what I’d seen walking out of the park. I think it was 9 years later when he was passing 1500 games in his streak, when a newspaper article gave quick synopses of the previous milestone games as a sidebar to an article about the streak, that I realized that the 1-hitter by a then unheard of rookie pitcher that marked the 1st game of Cal’s streak was one that I’d been to.

    It sent me on a mad scramble for the scorecard. Sure enough, I had it and had kept score. It was amazing how bad an 11 year old’s handwriting is — well mine anyway. I’d also apparently drifted that day and stopped scoring in the 6th or so.

    Years more later of course my thoughtful mom wanting to pare down stuff in her house asked me what I wanted to keep. I separated out the run-of-the-mill programs from the those autographed by greats and Cal’s game. I said I’ll arrange to take these out of here and these can go if you need the space. Of course, despite her efforts not to be that mother, she threw out the wrong pile.

    • invitro says:

      Why didn’t you just take the programs you wanted to keep and move them to wherever you were living?

    • lostinbaltoG says:

      Don’t mention the 1-hitter by the “then unheard of rookie pitcher” and then fail to tell us who he was!

      • Cuban X Senators says:

        BB-ref is there. But okay — Jim Gott making his 4th start went 6 giving up a single and then Roy Lee Jackson went the last hitless 3.

        And, for invitro, was flying abroad and not coming back through for a while.

  25. Matthew Clark says:

    Thank you. Even with all your good writing that you have published here I have missed this series. I look forward to buying the print copy when you do decide to bind all of these into a glorious coffee table book. Here’s to a new season of baseball, made even better because Joe Posnanski’s writing about it.

  26. MikeN says:

    “No one in the organization agreed with him”

    And 14 years later they were proved right.

  27. MikeN says:

    No one that big before. Hmm….

  28. Chris H says:

    I tend to think the most significant piece of analysis Bill James developed was the idea of the defensive spectrum, starting with shortstop and ending at first base, Players move from left to right on the spectrum, almost never right to left (except early in their careers, perhaps). Pete Rose is sort of the perfect example of that- I wonder if looking at Rose’s career helped inspire James.

    And, given an above-average hitter, the further to the shortstop end of the spectrum you are, the greater your advantage over the league. Ripken would have been a terrific third-baseman and a fair first-baseman. As shortstop, of course…. Joe pretty much covered that.

    I don’t know that Weaver read James; maybe he did, or maybe he figured it out independently, or just intuited it. Maybe he watched Trammell and Whitaker and saw the huge advantage they gave the Tigers. Maybe he just saw a terrific athlete in Ripken and put him where he could help thr team the most.

    In any case, in James and Ripken you had theory and practice, arriving at nearly the same time, and the legacy is a very different approach to creating lineups in the last thirty years.

    • MikeN says:

      I wonder how many things Popovich and Belichick have developed on their own, with stats guys just now catching up to them.
      The ‘no fumbles means deflation’ is actually BB deciding not fumbling was teachable.

    • Cuban X Senators says:

      I asked Alan Schwarz when the Numbers Game came out whether his research into Earl Weaver’s theories were developed after exposure to Earnshaw Cook, and he said he saw no evidence of that though he’d been curious too. Weaver plainly had reached the same conclusion though — and while the entire spectrum might be difficult to chart out exactly, certainly any thinker willing to buck tradition would reach the conclusion that a bat is more valuable at short than 3b. Indeed Weaver had seen the advantage of baseball starting to see 3b go from a defense first position a place one could put an Eddie Mathews.

  29. Hardy Callcott says:

    The really crazy Ripken streak was the 8,243 consecutive innings streak (which no one knows how much of a record it is, because the data doesn’t exist). But that one needed to end – you really should be giving a back-up shortstop some time in the field to get experience in case the starter gets injured.

  30. Pat says:

    Man, I had forgotten how much I missed this series. (How is that possible to forget?) Thanks for the reminder, Joe!

    I can’t remember exactly what Bill James wrote about Ripken in the 2000 Historical Abstract, but as memory serves, it was something like going to see the Orioles when they came to KC and having heard that KC had this great new shortstop, possibly even as good as Ripken, and after about twelve seconds (again, if memory serves) realizing: No way is this guy as good as Ripken.

  31. Al says:

    Aparicio and Vizquel are the greatest defensive shortstops after WWII, along with Ozzie Smith.

  32. Brzeszczyszczykiewicz says:

    I can’t help but wonder whether Jose has some dirt on Cal? I think it’s unlikely Cal was clean. Cal should also go down as the most selfish player in history. His streak screamed selfishness.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      Yes, that bastard. Let’s shoot him! Send him to a Trump rally as a protester. He’s the most selfish guy in the history of baseball. How dare he actually want to play every day.

  33. Boxcar Billy says:

    Thanks so much, Joe, for resuming this series. I don’t usually post but this is deserving given the occasion. Like the 65 that preceded it, this was a joy to read. Can’t wait for the final 34 (and we’ll wait because the pay-off, as the kids once said, is worth it). Great stuff.

  34. Brad says:

    Great story Joe. It warmed my heart to read about Ripken signing autographs after games. My earliest MLB memory is going to a Royals-Red Sox game, as a twelve year old, my first game ever, and politely asking Carl Yazstremski for his autograph. He brusquely blew me off. From that point forward, I never looked at Yaz the same. He became Carl f-in Yazstremski. Everyone in my family called him that. You can be kind or you can be a jerk. Either way, people remember.

  35. Larry Howser says:

    Joe thanks so much!! I have been waiting for this to continue – wonderful writing and always insightful views into the greatest players in history. Your article on Nolan Ryan told us so much about an incredible player. Am looking forward to the final countdown.

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