Rangers Give Cal His Latest Sendoff
Zuckerman, Mark, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Byline: Mark Zuckerman
ARLINGTON, Texas - Cal Ripken has received high praise and parting gifts - and will continue to - as his final season with the Baltimore Orioles winds down over the next two-plus months. But it's unlikely any opposing team will honor baseball's Iron Man as impressively as the Texas Rangers did yesterday.
In a brief ceremony before last night's series opener at the Ballpark in Arlington, the Rangers retired Ripken's locker inside in the visitor's clubhouse. Yes, his locker.
Emblazoned with a large, orange and black nameplate including his No. 8 and a plaque commemorating his final appearance in Texas, the locker will never be used again.
"We know what Cal's done on the field. But we wanted to do something a little different," said Rangers general manager Doug Melvin, who came up with the idea about 10 days ago. "The greatest thing about watching Cal, besides his playing ability, is watching him prepare for the game. And it starts right here at the locker. There's no one better. How he's prepared for the game is going to be a model for everyone else in baseball."
A few of the game's greats have had their lockers retired over the years by their own teams, but no one could recall a visiting player receiving such an honor.
The plaque was unveiled in a pregame presentation with Melvin, Rangers players Alex and Ivan Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro and former Baltimore and Texas manager Johnny Oates. The inscription reads: "In recognition of more than 20 years of outstanding achievement, the Texas Rangers are proud to retire the locker of Cal Ripken Jr. in the visiting clubhouse at The Ballpark in Arlington. This locker will forever recognize the intensity, passion and excellence that Cal Ripken brought to the game of baseball. Dedicated July 24, 2001."
"It's a cool honor, a very unique idea," said Ripken, who already has been honored in his last trips to Chicago, Atlanta and Florida and will be recognized again this weekend in Anaheim. …