In a month that has seen two more scandals in professional sports— an NBA referee betting on playoff games that he was officiating, and Michael Vick stupidly put his career and endorsements in jeopardy with his fighting pit bull kennel (folks, you can’t make this stuff up and expect anyone believe it)— it is great to see two consummate professionals like Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. They are such anomalies and anachronisms in today’s game—role models you’d want your kids looking up to, hard workers who believed in the proper preparation, students of the game whose egos were in check, who respected the integrity of the game, who still realized that baseball is a team sport and they are part of the team. The turn out in Cooperstown was phenomenal, and these two guys deserved all the honors and accolades they received.
Coincident with his Hall of Fame induction, Cal also published a book this year called: Get in the Game: 8 Elements of Perseverance That Make the Difference. My kids bought a copy for me on my birthday, and I just finished reading it. I won’t give away what the 8 Elements are, but this book is Ripken’s formula for success built from his life experiences and his extraordinary family, starting with his lessons from his Dad, Cal Sr. The book is both well-written and well thought-out, and a lot of old fashioned values are laid out that could use some dusting off in our “immediate gratification” society. Besides the personal stories and glimpses into Cal’s upbringing, I enjoyed the parallels drawn in the book between Cal and Lou Gehrig. The similarities in work ethic and devotion to the game are uncanny. I heartily recommend this book to all sports fans, and anyone interested in succeeding in life.