On Friday, my six-year-old son and I attended our first minor-league game of the season in Lynchburg, VA. During the game, Jack said something to me that made me laugh.
“Daddy, when I grow up I want to be a minor-league baseball player!”
I laughed, because I know that the goal of every minor-league player is to stop being a minor-league player, and advance to the majors. But then, one day later, I read the same sentiment from one of my baseball idols – Cal Ripken, Jr.
In an article in the Port Charlotte Sun, Cal recounted his youth in the dugouts of the Bus Leagues, where his father managed.
“I couldn’t get enough of it,” he said. “I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. At one point, I wanted to be a minor-league ball player. Not a big-league player. I thought they had a job and they got paid to play a game every night.”
If you don’t think too much about the money thats out there in the bigs, it’s a pretty good deal, right?
Ripken is celebrating the 30th anniversary of his own debut in the Florida State League. While his major league career was legendary in every way, after it was over, Ripken and his brother Billy returned to their roots in the minors. Their first team was the Aberdeen IronBirds (Orioles A), followed by the Augusta GreenJackets (Giants A), and most recently the Stone Crabs (Rays A), who drew 7,116 fans to their first game on Friday.
Cal’s retirement is every bit as classy and intelligent as his playing career was. He’s found a way to stay involved with baseball, and contribute to the development of the game and its players. And, on top of that, he’s keeping Billy off the streets.