Tue, Jul 31, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken inducted into Hall of Fame


Cal Ripken Jr and Tony Gwynn took their place in baseball's shrine on Sunday, saluted as much for their Hall of Fame careers as their character off the field.

Commissioner Bud Selig and a record crowd cheered them and all that is good about the game.

A continent away in San Francisco, a different scene played out. Barry Bonds failed to tie the home run record, a chase tainted by his surly nature and a steroids investigation.

"This day shouldn't be all about us," Ripken said. "Today is about celebrating the best that baseball has been and the best it can be. This is a symbol it's alive, popular."

"Whether you like it or not, as big leaguers, we are role models," he said. "The only question is, will it be a positive one or will it be negative?"

Gwynn echoed Ripken's call.

"I think the fans felt comfortable enough in us, they could trust us and how we played the game, especially in this era of negativity," he said.

"When you sign your name on the dotted line, it's more than just playing the game of baseball," he said. "You've got to be responsible and make decisions and show people how things are supposed to be done."

Boosted by fans from Maryland, an estimated 75,000 people turned the vast field facing the podium into a sea of Baltimore Orioles black, orange and brown.

Ripken spent his entire career in Baltimore, making his mark by playing 2,632 consecutive games spanning 16 seasons from 1982 to 1998 and breaking Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130. Among those on stage behind Ripken were former Orioles Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Jim Palmer.

Gwynn finished with 3,141 hits and won eight NL batting titles in his 20-year career with the Padres.

Even though he had 3,184 hits and was a two-time American League MVP and a 19-time All-Star, Ripken will always be known for his streak.

"I always looked at it as just showing up for work every day," he said. "As I look out on this audience, I see thousands of people who do the same, teachers, police officers, mothers, fathers, business people and many others."

"You all may not receive the accolades that I have throughout my career, but I would like to take the time to salute all of you for showing up, working hard and making the world a better place," he said.

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