Today in Cooperstown, NY, two of the greatest to ever play the game were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Two men who spent their entire career in one city, who played the game the right way, and who never, EVER, had a scandalous word spoken about them.
Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn are beacons of light in a sports world that is often littered with trash like drugs, cheating, and off the field behavior that would make a hardened criminal shake his head.
Cal, with his consecutive game streak, is credited for saving baseball after the strike of 1994: I don't know about all that. I DO know that the country was mesmerized those 2 days in Baltimore where he tied the streak, then broke it the next night. I remember watching and getting goose bumps seeing him go all the way around Camden Yards, touching as many hands as he could reach. But Cal wasn't just a guy who showed up everyday: when you have an MVP, 2 Gold Gloves, 8 Silver Slugger Awards, 3,184 hits, and a World Series ring, you are a bona fide Hall of Famer.
Gwynn gave me one of those "remember where you were?" moments also. In 1999, the All Star Game was played at Fenway Park, and before the game, Ted Williams was brought on the field to throw the first pitch to Pudge Fisk. In one of those unscripted moments you can't fake, all the players came out to shake his hand. It was Tony who led the nearly blind Williams to the spot where he was supposed to stand, then told him where Fisk was. If you saw it happen, and it didn't get a little dusty, you have no heart. He finished his career with 3,141 hits, 5 Gold Gloves, 7 Silver Sluggers, and a career .338 batting average.
Their numbers alone make them no-brainer Hall of Famer's: the fact they are both quality human beings is a bonus. So today, with Barry Bonds, cheating NBA refs, and a star NFL player being investigated for being lower than human, lets celebrate the honor bestowed on two of the all time greats.
Standing ovation for Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, the two newest members in a very select group.